Most of the calcium in your body is found in your bones and teeth, the rest is in your tissues and blood. We need a supply of calcium throughout our lives, but calcium health plays its most important role while we are growing and during pregnancy and breastfeeding. As the most plentiful mineral in the body, calcium plays a critical role in maintaining good health and preventing disease.
Role #1: Strengthens Bones and Teeth
Calcium helps build and maintain strong bones and teeth. As we age, calcium helps prevent the onset of osteoporosis. The ease and modulation of contracting and relaxing muscles is dependent on having adequate calcium.
Role #2: Regulates Heart Functions
Calcium has a natural calming effect and is necessary for maintaining a regular heartbeat. The transmission of nerve impulses also requires adequate calcium.
Role #3: Control of Blood Pressure and Release of Neurotransmitters
In some people, an increase in the amount of calcium they consume can help control blood pressure, eliminating the need for anti-hypertension medication.
Role #4: Enzyme Production
Calcium facilitates the production of enzymes that regulate digestion, energy, and the metabolism of fat. Both calcium and magnesium are important at the cellular level and play an important role in the body's ability to generate energy
Role #5: Breast Cancer Prevention
It has recently been determined that calcium helps in the fight against breast cancer. Calcium and vitamin D both are required to decrease breast densities, which in turn appear to reduce the risk of breast cancer.
Role #6: Prevention of Premature Heart Disease
Calcium helps prevent premature heart disease, especially if adequate intakes of magnesium are present. There is some question about whether postmenopausal women should continue to take calcium or whether high amounts of calcium may actually contribute to heart attacks in postmenopausal women. Postmenopausal women should consult their health care practitioners for the latest research results.
Role #7: Prevention of Periodontal Disease (gum disease)
According the Journal of Periodontology, men and women who had calcium intakes less than 500 milligrams, or about half the recommended dietary allowance, were almost twice as likely to have periodontal disease.
Role #8: Prevention of Bowel Cancer
An overview of studies has shown that you only have to increase your calcium intake a small amount to begin to lower your bowel cancer risk. Calcium may help in the prevention of bowel cancer because it prevents polyps from developing.
Role #9: Lowers Cholesterol
High cholesterol may contribute to the buildup of plaque in your arteries, which puts you at greater risk for a heart attack. Calcium has been shown to help lower HDL.
Role# 10: Prevents Muscle Cramps
Low blood calcium and magnesium are a contributing factor in muscle cramps for pregnant women and the elderly.
Role # 11: Keeps the Skin Healthy
The combination of calcium and phosphorous works to maintain healthy skin, hair, nails, and bones. Calcium can help clear blemished skin.
Role #12: Prevents Lead From Being Absorbed Into the Bones
Diets rich in calcium help resist the damage from lead. This is especially important for young children.
Sources of Calcium
Good sources of calcium include:
- low-fat cheese
- low-fat dairy products
Because most adults, especially postmenopausal women, don't get enough calcium, they also take a dietary supplement on a daily basis. Children 9-18 need about 1300 mg of calcium /day, adults 19-50 require 1,00mg/day and adults over 51 need 1200 mg/day.