Why Is Calcium So Important?
Calcium is important for overall health. Almost every cell in your body will use your calcium supplies in some way. Namely your nervous system, muscles, heart and bones. As you age, you absorb less calcium from your diet which causes your body to take increased amounts of calcium from your bones. Over time, osteopenia or osteoporosis can occur.
Calcium comes from the foods you eat. Some calcium source includes:
Unless needed, it is better to get your calcium from food sources rather than from supplements. Talk to your health care professional about supplements and doses.
When you blood calcium levels are low, your parathyroid gland will release a hormone called parathyroid hormone or PTH. PTH will tell your bones to release more calcium into the bloodstream. PTH also activates vitamin D which will as a result increase intestinal calcium absorption.
People at different stages of their life will need different amounts of calcium. Young children, adolescents and older women all have greater requirements than the average requirements.
Vitamin D is known as the sun vitamin. You obtain vitamin D from your skin in response to sunlight. As vitamin D promotes absorption of calcium from your intestines, vitamin D therefore helps to build and maintain strong bones
Role of calcium in the body
Calcium plays an important role in:
- strengthening your bones and teeth
- regulating muscle functioning, such as contraction and relaxation
- regulating heart functioning
- blood clotting
- transmission of nervous system messages
- enzyme function.
Lifestyle can affect bone strength
Some of the factors that can reduce calcium in your bones and weaken bones or decrease bone density include:
- high-salt diet
- more than six drinks per day of caffeine rich drinks. These include coke, coffee and tea (not herbal)
- very low body weight
- excessive alcohol consumption
- very high intakes of fibre low levels of physical activity
- low levels of vitamin D
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