Calcium is one of the most abundant minerals in the human body and is highly essential for good health. However, the number of patients with calcium deficiencies is increasing alarmingly. A lack of awareness about the causes is one of the primary reasons behind it.

Here’s all that you need to know about this mineral for your health.

Why Is Calcium Important?

You might already be well-aware of the importance of calcium for bones and teeth. But this isn’t all that this mineral is required for.

While its importance in the formation and maintenance of strong bones cannot be understated, it also has a role to play in the proper functioning of vital organs such as the heart as well as other muscles and nerves.

When combined with vitamin D, calcium is known for maintaining blood pressure and blood sugar levels. This is the reason why it is used as a primary ingredient in many antacids and diabetes medicine.

The Effects of Calcium Deficiency

It goes without saying that insufficient calcium intake will have severe effects on a growing child. Calcium deficiency in children leads to stunted growth as the bones do not fully develop. They are unable to reach their full potential height and often suffer from other ailments resulting from weak bones that are unable to support their weight.

Calcium deficiency that develops later in life leads to low bone mass that ultimately causes osteoporosis (a condition in which bones are easily bent and broken).

How Much Calcium Do You Need?

While infants require less than 250 mg per day, children aged between 1 and 8 need about 750 mg of calcium each day. For teenagers and adults, the ideal daily calcium intake is approximately 1000 mg whereas for senior citizens it should be over 1200 mg per day.

Calcium-Rich Foods

Following are some of the food items that are naturally rich in calcium.

  • Milk
  • Cheese
  • Yogurt
  • Tofu
  • Broccoli
  • Spinach
  • Figs
  • Beans
  • Seaweeds like kelp and wakame
  • Nuts such as almonds, hazelnuts, sesame and pistachio

When Do You Need Calcium Supplements?

People, who consume dairy items, eat more fresh fruits and vegetables and overall follow healthy eating habits, are usually able to meet their daily calcium requirements through their regular diet. However, if you follow a strict vegan diet or are lactose intolerant and therefore, consume limited or no dairy products, then you will need calcium supplements to stay healthy.

Patients of osteoporosis require calcium supplements and so do people who consume large amounts of protein and/or sodium because this increases the excretion of calcium from the body.

Pros and Cons of Calcium Supplements

Calcium supplements ensure that you meet the daily requirements of calcium intake according to your age. Old people are mostly recommended to take calcium supplements on a daily basis to prevent various ailments and health issues resulting from calcium deficiency.

Calcium regulates muscle contraction as well as facilitates blood coagulation (clotting). It is also a co-factor for many enzymes in the human body, meaning that without calcium, important biological reactions cannot occur efficiently.

Did you know that studies have proven the role of calcium in lowering the risk of mortality? Patients under intensive care showed remarkable improvement within 28 to 90 days of administering dietary calcium.

Therefore, check whether you are getting enough calcium from your regular diet. Consult a physician to clear any doubts and consider taking calcium supplements if needed.