Did you know that 1 to 2% of our body weight is calcium? Calcium is considered the 5th major essential element in the human body, and it is also the 5th common element in the earth. What makes calcium important is that 99% of it is located in bone and teeth. Calcium is responsible for maintaining healthy bone and teeth, but not just that. It’s also responsible for neurotransmissions in the nervous system, muscle contraction and to stimulate secretions from glands.
So, what will happen if calcium levels drop? Obviously, symptoms of calcium deficiency will be centered on bone and teeth, as 99% of it is distributed in them. Also, deficient levels of calcium in the body give rise to a life-threatening condition called tetany. Tetany is a disease characterized by muscle spasms which may affect any muscle group in the body. The affected muscle groups differ according to how low is the calcium levels in the blood. Muscle spasms may affect the breathing muscles, including the diaphragm, which may lead to death.
Why calcium and what’s its benefits?
• Bone and teeth health
40% of the bone composition is made up of calcium. Calcium is the mineral that gives the bone its hard consistency. Without calcium, the bone would become weak and fragile; this condition is called osteoporosis in adults and rickets in children. In the case of teeth, calcium promotes dental health. Some calcium is stored in teeth to strengthen and protect them from tooth decay.
• Muscle contraction and nerve signal transmission
Muscle fibers need nerve impulses to take action. Calcium is important for muscles and nerves as it works on the contraction and relaxation of muscle fibers, and delivers the chemical transmitters from the nerve endings to the muscles.
• Helps with weight loss
Studies show that people who increase calcium intake in their diet lose fat quickly, especially from their belly region.
• Protect against cancer
It is considered anticarcinogenic, and calcium is also responsible for cell grow, maturation, proliferation and to regulate both cell differentiation and programmed cell death (Apoptosis).
• Lowers blood pressure
As calcium helps in muscle contraction, it helps to dilate the blood vessels. Blood vessel dilatation is one of the body mechanisms to decrease blood pressure. Calcium controls contraction and relaxation of the heart muscle, which reduces the heart rate and the blood pressure.
• Decreases premenstrual syndrome (PMS)
Research shows that calcium helps relieve premenstrual symptoms such as bloating, mood swings, cramps and headaches as it controls muscle contractions and nerve functions.
• Protects against bleeding disorders
Calcium helps with blood clotting during injuries and prevents excessive bleeding. It is essential to stimulate clotting enzymes as they work after binding to the calcium.
• Improves digestion
Calcium is used as an antacid to help with acid reflux and heartburn. It also improves digestion, as it stimulates the muscles of the digestive system.
» Now, let’s discuss the sources of calcium.