Calcium needs of your body
by Dr Harold Gunatillake
You need to take calcium daily and it is also most abundant mineral in your body. It is found sufficiently in your food (discuss later), dietary supplements and present in some medications like antacids.
Calcium is required for contraction and dilatation of arteries, muscle contractions, for nerve transmission, for hormonal secretions and other metabolic functions. Lack of calcium causes nerve irritability and nerve conduction is disorganised. You get a condition called tetany where your fingers and joints can twist to cause pain and dysfunction. Calcium blocking agents like Amlodipine (Norvasc) is used to slow down the heart muscle action to reduce the high blood pressure in patients.
The body regulates the calcium in the blood and does not allow to fluctuations with dietary calcium intake, as the body uses the calcium reserves in the bones when there is a shortage in the blood stream. Thus the nerves, muscles and fluids within the cells can function without hiccups.
About 99% of the body’s calcium supply is stored in the bones and required for its skeletal structure and keep the bones strong. Lack of calcium intake can lead to bone fractures in trauma situations. Fracture of the hip bones is very common among the elderly after even minor falls, and lack of calcium affects the vertebral bones: they get softer and gets compressed leading to back problems. A condition called osteoporosis results due to deficiency of calcium in the bones.
Daily calcium requirements are as follow:
0–6 months* 200 mg 200 mg
7–12 mnths Males-260 mg: Female-260 mg
1–3 years Male-700 mg: Female 700 mg
4–8 years Male 1,000 mg: Female 1,000 mg
9–13 years Male 1,300 mg: Female 1,300 mg
14–18 years Male 1,300 mg: Female 1,300 mg: Pregnant 1,300 mg: Lactation1,300 mg
19–50 years Male 1,000 mg: Female 1,000 mg: Pregnant 1,000 mg: Lactation 1,000 mg
51–70 years Male 1,000 mg: Female 1,200 mg
71+ years Male 1,200 mg: Female 1,200 mg
Some of the best food sources of Calcium-
milk, 8-ounce glass: 300 mg: cottage cheese, 1/2 cup: 65 mg: soy milk, calcium fortified, 8 ounces: 200-400 mg: yogurt, 1 cup: 450 mg: cheese, 1 ounce: 50-270 mg: kale, 1 cup: 55 mg: orange juice, 1 cup fortified with calcium: 300 mg: tofu calcium set, 4 ounces: 250-750 mg: cereals, calcium fortified, 1 ounce: 250-1000 mg: almonds, 1 ounce: 80 mg: sesame seeds,1 ounce: 280 mg: chia seeds,1 ounce: 180 mg: canned salmon, 2 ounces: 170-210 mg: sardines, 3 ounces: 370 mg
Calcium Supplements vs. natural products
Too much of calcium intake from supplements is considered bad for the heart, and best way to get calcium is through natural dietary foods.
The John Hopkins School of Medicine researchers found that taking too much of calcium dietary supplements can increase calcium deposit builds up in the plaques of coronary arteries. On the other hand calcium taken from food sources lowered the risk of developing calcium deposits in the arteries, an early sign of plaque build-up.
Calcium-rich foods also seems to protect both bones and hearts
Check your serum Calcium levels
Get a blood test done to check whether your calcium numbers are correct.
Avoid taking calcium supplements n high doses- may take in small doses.
Eat plenty of calcium rich foods as detailed above.
Remember, daily exercise, and sports activities among school children are the best ways to make your bones strong. Encourage your kids to participate in school sports and give them natural calcium rich foods like milk and cheese, daily.
Good advice from Dr harold
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