Calcium … a vital mineral

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Riyadh: Dr. Abeer Mubarak

Calcium is an important nutrient. This importance comes from its vital role in the work of every cell of the body without exception. In addition, there are several functions in the body that depend on the availability of calcium in sufficient quantities in the body.
Calcium
functions: Calcium functions include:
Build and maintain healthy bones: the skeleton and teeth store more than 99 percent of the calcium in the body. And bone tissue needs calcium as part of its strong tissue formation. The skeleton also acts as a depository of calcium, which other organs in the body can use when they need calcium.
The work of the heart muscle: Calcium, as indicated by cardiologists, is what keeps the heart muscle beating, in the strict sense of the word. Without calcium, the heart muscle, and the muscles throughout the rest of the body, would not be able to contract and relax. Therefore, when calcium levels in the blood are disturbed, it is very likely that profound disturbances in the heart rhythm will arise. Calcium is also important in contracting and expanding blood vessels, thus affecting the level of blood pressure and blood flow to important organs in the body. One of the types of drugs used medically in treating high blood pressure or some types of heart rhythm disorders, works to control the exit and entry of calcium into and out of the heart muscle cells and the muscles that cover the important arteries in the body.
Nerve signals: Calcium is essential for maintaining healthy communication between the brain and other parts of the body. The main role that calcium plays in relation to the function of the nervous system is in the transmission of nerve cell signals for the transmission of the nerve impulse and the completion of several processes in the body, such as contraction and relaxation of muscles. Therefore, when calcium is deficient, muscle spasms and paraesthesia occur.
Calcium has another role in every stage of the neuronal development in the growth of brain cells, during the early stages of life.
> Secretion of enzymes and hormones: Calcium is an essential element in completing the processes that take place inside the cells, the Intracellular Processes, within the stages of secretion of enzymes and hormones, such as the secretion of the hormone insulin.
> Activating the blood clotting process: When wounds occur, calcium is an essential element in activating the work of the clotting factors necessary to complete the blood clotting process. Without calcium, these agents would remain inactive.
Calcium needs
for this and others. Calcium is one of the most important minerals required by the body. Because the body does not produce minerals, the way to obtain calcium is food.
The amount that the body needs of calcium per day depends on the amount of age, specifically:
– All adults (females and males) between the ages of 19 and 50 years need 1000 mg per day.
All adults over the age of 71 need 1,200 mg.
But for reasons related to hormonal changes, a woman between the ages of 51 and 70 years old needs to raise the calcium intake to 1,200 milligrams.
One can calculate the extent to which it meets these needs, by reading the label attached to the food package, and as experts from Mayo Clinic say: “If the label indicates that a product provides – for example – 30 percent of your daily calcium needs, you can add zero. To find out how much it contains in milligrams. In this case, you will get 300 mg of calcium.
The role of vitamin D: After consuming a calcium-rich food product, several other nutrients, especially vitamin D, help the body to absorb calcium in the intestine. Then the blood transports the calcium to be distributed as needed to the various organs of the body. What is more than the need of the organs, that is, not necessary for other body processes, is transferred to the bones. It is added to bone mass and stored for withdrawal when needed throughout the rest of the body.
Calcium deficiency: Sometimes calcium deficiency comes from insufficient intake of this mineral in the daily diet, or because the body does not absorb enough of it through the digestive processes in the intestine, for reasons related to the safety of the digestive system from diseases, and the efficiency of the digestion and absorption processes in it, or Due to the presence of food or medicinal elements that impede the absorption of calcium, or to increase the excretion of calcium in the urine for several reasons.
When this happens, calcium is drawn from the bones into the blood to maintain a constant level of calcium in the blood. Also, every day, the body loses calcium through loss of hair, skin and nails, and through sweat, urine and feces. So every day, this lost calcium must be replaced with what a person eats.

Sources of Calcium The
most important food sources that you can eat to obtain calcium are milk and dairy products. However, there are many food sources rich in calcium, whose intake provides the body with its daily need of it, especially for people who avoid consuming milk and its derivatives for health reasons, such as Milk Allergy, or Lactose Intolerance.
Other foods rich in calcium include:
– Fish of all kinds: especially canned sardines with bones, fresh, canned or smoked salmon, fresh, frozen or canned shrimp and lobster.
Leafy vegetables: of all kinds, especially spinach, parsley, chicory, watercress, green onions, leeks, and lettuce.
Vegetables: especially okra, beans, cowpeas, squash, sweet potatoes, cabbage, cauliflower, and broccoli.
Legumes: chickpeas, beans, cowpeas, and kidney beans.
Nuts of all kinds: especially almonds and pistachios.
Fruits: especially the types with high calcium content, such as: wet and dates, prickly pears, fresh or dried parchment figs, berries, peaches, plums, kiwi, papaya, orange and lemon juice, natural or fortified with calcium.
Spices: turmeric, curry, black pepper, thyme, and rosemary.
Calcium-fortified breakfast cereals.

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