Monday, April 23, 2012

Guest Post : Calcium-The Underestimated Mineral

According to National Osteoporosis Foundation, calcium is important to keep our bones denser and stronger throughout our life. Apart from helping to keep our bones and teeth stronger, calcium plays a pivotal role in vascular contractions, secretion of hormones and enzymes, muscle function, intracellular signaling and in performing critical metabolic functions. In order to perform these critical functions, our body needs to maintain enough calcium in our blood and muscles, which is usually done by storing high concentration of calcium in our bone tissue.

We all know that calcium can keep osteoporosis at bay, but calcium also plays a pivotal role in coagulating blood platelets by forming blood clots. However, it is not just enough to increase your calcium intake to reap its benefits; you should also stay away from foods that can reduce the density of calcium in your body. As calcium directly influences our body's metabolic function and regulates overall growth, it is certainly an essential mineral. Recent research has shed light on the beneficial sides of calcium. Here is a list of benefits calcium provides.

1. Calcium can help you stay fit
Apart from having a low carb diet, a good amount of calcium intake is also needed to keep your weight off. If your calcium intake is low, then your body automatically responds to its deficit by releasing parathyroid hormone into your blood stream. This hormone stimulates the bones to release the calcium stored in it into the blood stream. Additionally, kidneys also responds by releasing a type of hormone called calcitriol to increase the body’s ability to absorb calcium. As both these hormones stimulate the production of fat, you can see a considerable increase in your weight during your low calcium intake period.
However, if you increase your calcium intake then production of both of these hormones is suppressed and hence your body stores less fat. So, this is definitely good news for people with arthritis as they have difficulty in doing workouts to manage their weight gain. Now, with extra dose of calcium they can easily maintain healthy bones and still manage their weight.

2. Calcium helps to protect your heart
Another important role of calcium is it helps to protect your heart effectively. If you are low on calcium then your body automatically responds by producing calcitriol, which acts on the walls of your arteries by constricting them and elevating your blood pressure. Therefore, if you want to maintain correct blood pressure, then you need to give as much importance to your calcium intake as you give to your sodium intake. By increasing the amount of calcium, you are not only reducing your blood pressure, but also helping to keep your heart muscles healthier and stronger. This can certainly ease the pain of thousands of people suffering from heart problems.

3. Calcium can reduce premenstrual symptoms
According to a recent study, calcium is said to reduce premenstrual symptoms (PMS) in women and is seemed to be effective on both emotional and physical side. As per the study, women who took higher doses of calcium experienced fewer PMS symptoms like cramping, depression, and mood swings.

4. Calcium can reduce formation of colon cancer
Another important benefit of calcium is, it can suppress the growth of polyps and thereby prevent colon cancer. Even though researchers are not very clear on how calcium helps to reduce cancer, a recent study shows that when patients takes excess calcium, the unabsorbed calcium that remains in their intestine binds with cancer promoters and is excreted from the body.

5. Calcium prevents jaw deformation
One of the widely known and acknowledged benefit of calcium is it helps to maintain stronger teeth. Less amount of calcium can weaken the jaw bones and can widen the gaps between your teeth where bacteria can grow and trigger infection. So if you have pain in your jaws or teeth, then your dentists can tell you the initial signs of calcium deficiency, which could also be your first sign of osteoporosis.

Calcium rich foods
If you are allergic to dairy products, then you can rely on some of foods like orange juice, soymilk, sesame seeds, collard greens, tofu, white beans, parmesan cheese, dried figs, Quinoa, and Brocolli to meet your daily calcium needs. If you are between 9 to 18 years old, then you might require at least 1300 mg of calcium per day. For people between 19 to 50 yrs, the recommended dose is 1000 mg of calcium per day. If you are older, then you must take at least 1200 mg of calcium per day. Even though calcium has lots of benefits, you need to be aware of formation of kidney stones from excess intake of calcium. In any case, it is better to consult your physician before altering your calcium intake.
We all have seen people suffering from arthritis; weaker bones are certainly debilitating, so it is highly essential to take right amount of calcium every day. The two most important points to keep in mind are to avoid foods that can reduce your body’s calcium storage and to have foods that can help absorb calcium. On the other hand, like other minerals, we need to exercise caution to prevent excess intake of calcium as it can result in kidney stone formation and blood clots.

About the author: Alia Haley is a blogger by profession. She loves writing on technology, health and parenting. Beside this she is fond of games and gadgets. These days she is busy in writing articles on acne treatment and gaming chairs.