Calcium-An Essential Mineral

Calcium is the most abundant mineral in the human body. It is essential for the development and maintenance of strong bones and teeth. It makes up nearly 2% of total body weight. More than 99% of the calcium in your body is found in your bones. Many enzymes depend on calcium in order to work properly, as do your nerves, heart and blood clotting mechanisms.

According to the National Institutes of Health, many Americans consume less than half the amount of calcium recommended to build and maintain healthy bones. Heavy use of caffeine can diminish calcium levels. Higher amounts of calcium is therefore required to offset calcium depletion due to caffeine consumption. Excessive intake of sodium, phosphates (from carbonated beverages) and alcohol, as well as use of aluminum based antacids also contribute to increased secretion of calcium.

Certain foods give you the best source for calcium intake. The National Institutes for Health’s Office of Diet Supplements offers the following list of foods that are high in calcium:

• Yogurt
• Various Cheeses
• Sardines in oil w/bones
• Milk
• Tofu
• Cottage Cheese
• Turnip Greens
• Kale

Calcium deficiency can be found in people with malabsorption disorders. Prolonged best rest can cause loss of calcium in the bones of the elderly who are less able to absorp calcium.
Symptoms of calcium deficiency include the following:

• Muscle Spasms/Cramping
• Hair Loss
• Dry Skin & Nails
• Tingling or burning sensation around your mouth and fingers
• Nausea & Vomiting
• Headaches
• Yeast Infections
• Anxiety
• Convulsions/Seizures
• Poor Tooth and Bone development

An inadequate supply of calcium over your lifetime is thought to play a significant role in contributing to the development of osteoporosis. Studies have shown that calcium, in combination with vitamin D, can help prevent bone loss associated with menopause. If adequate amounts of calcium are not being provided through your diet, calcium supplements may be necessary.

Unlike some supplements, calcium is not taken at extra high doses for special therapeutic benefit. It should be taken in the amounts listed or by recommendation of your family physician along with the recommended level of vitamin D. Studies have found evidence that your body can’t absorb more than 500 mg of calcium at one time. Therefore, it is most efficient to take your total daily calcium in two or more doses.

Here are the recommended requirements for calcium from the Institute of
Medicine:

• 0-6 months: 200 mg
• 7-12 months: 260 mg
• 1-3 years: 700 mg
• 4-8 years: 1000 mg
• 9-18 years: 1300 mg
• 19-50 years: 1000 mg
• 51-70 years: Males-1000mg, Females-1200 mg
• 71 and older: 1200mg

Finally, calcium is also sometimes recommended for attention deficit disorder, migraine headaches and periodontal disease. There is as yet no meaningful evidence that it is effective for these conditions.

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