Calcium Facts - Important Mineral For
Minerals are an important component of our diet. These are
needed in small amounts but without them, we cannot have strong and healthy bodies.
The body contains some 50 minerals, which serves specific functions in the body.
minerals are required in very small amounts i.e. less than 100mg and they are
referred as micro minerals. E.g. iodine, zinc, manganese, copper, cobalt, and
fluorine. Macro minerals are those, which are required in amounts more than 100mg/day.
These include calcium, phosphorus, iron, sodium, potassium, & magnesium etc.
very important mineral is calcium (Ca)
Almost 99% of our body's calcium
is found in the hard tissues of the body i.e. the bones and teeth. The rest is
distributed in blood and soft tissues.
Most of the bone formation in the
fetus occurs in the 8TH & 9TH month of the pregnancy. At birth, the bones
are very soft. Throughout the growth phases, the bone elongates, thickens, &
The first teeth are formed from 4TH -6TH week of pregnancy. By
the 12TH week, these teeth calcify. These are the milk teeth. The permanent teeth
are formed by the child's 3RD birthday. So for proper growth of the body, optimum
amount of calcium intake is necessary.
The requirement of calcium from childhood
to adults ranges from 400-600mg/day. The important functions of calcium include:
It is involved in the formation of bones & teeth.
- Calcium helps
in muscle contraction.
- It is essential in controlling transmission
of nerve impulses
- It is involved in the absorption of vitamin b12,
in the action of fat digesting enzyme (pancreatic lipase) and in the secretion
of insulin from the pancreas.
- Calcium is also needed for normal clotting
of blood, as it is required for the conversion of protein prothrombin to an enzyme
thrombin that converts a soluble blood protein fibrinogen into fibrin (blood clot).
calcium not only gives strength to our basic structure but also is required in
smaller amounts for the proper functioning of every cell in the body. All the
nutrients that we take in our body through our diet are only of importance if
they are absorbed and utilized in the body aptly.
Most of the utilization
of calcium occurs in the small intestine as calcium salts are most soluble in
acidic medium. On an average 30-40% of the dietary calcium is absorbed in adults.
Growing children, pregnant & lactating women absorb 50-60% of dietary calcium.
As their bodies are in a state of growth & development the efficiency of calcium,
utilization also increases.
The efficiency of calcium absorption decreases
to 20-30% after 45 years of age in women & 60 years in men. Estrogen increases
calcium absorption and so after menopause calcium absorption decreases. In elderly,
it is only about 10%. There are certain factors, which favors the absorption of
calcium in the body while some other factors inhibit the same.
which favor calcium absorption, include:
- vitamin D: which is available
naturally from sunlight( up to 9:00 am)
- Acidic medium: from citrus
fruits like lemon.
- Lactose: which is present in curd?
calcium intakes are low, the body adapts, by absorbing a greater proportion of
the dietary calcium available and excreting less.
The factors, which
inhibit the absorption of calcium, are:
- oxalic acid: mostly present
in spinach, forms an insoluble complex with calcium which cannot be absorbed.
Phytic acid: present in outer most layer of whole grain cereals
fat in diet.
- Lack of exercise.
- Increased fiber intake.
Emotional instability in situations of stress, tension, anxiety, grief, and boredom.
of calcium manifests due to insufficient intake. When sufficient calcium is not
supplied, pregnant women lose calcium from their body tissue to fulfill the needs
of the growing fetus Similarly, nursing mothers lose calcium from the formation
of milk. This can further lead to weak & fragile bones; more prone to fractures
In children, lack of calcium affects their growth. The skeletal
system doesn't mineralize properly resulting in weak bones, which are unable to
support the weight of the body. In children, this can lead to rickets, which is
characterized, by bowed legs, enlarged joints & other deformities. The teeth
are also affected in calcium deficiency and the mechanism of blood clotting is
It is found in both animal and plant foods.
Richest sources include milk & milk products & green leafy vegetables.
Cereals like ragi are also a good source.
Foods like crab, sesame seeds;
skimmed milk powder contains more than 1000mg of calcium in a serving of 100g.
Cheese contains 950mg/100g.
Therefore, a diet rich in calcium can lead to
a strong & healthy body with proper functioning of its systems. For growing
kids it is more important to ensure proper growth & development. Having two
glasses of milk. Including curd & cottage cheese in diet can very well meet
the daily requirement of calcium.
In addition, do not forget to have a good
amount of sunlight along with it. So enjoy a calcium rich diet and have a strong
& healthy body!