Why Calcium Is Needed in Body and Its Natural Sources
Calcium is an important mineral that is required for the maintenance of bone health and teeth. Calcium is also needed by various systems of the body like the circulatory system that involves heart functioning, blood clotting system and nervous system needs calcium too. The 99% of calcium in the human body is bones and teeth and the remaining 1% is utilized for various physiological workings of the body. Calcium exists as a constituent in many vegetables, pulses, and other food products. Often in cases of low calcium oral supplementation of calcium is administered. In this article we will discuss the importance of calcium, its natural sources in terms of food articles and herbs.
The body of an adult normally contains about 1200 grams of calcium and as mentioned earlier at least 99% of that calcium is in the skeleton and teeth. The calcium salts are held in a cellular matrix, and thus provide a hard structure to the bones and teeth. In adults, around 70% of the calcium in food is excreted in faeces, during growth the efficiency of the absorption is greater. Calcium absorption may be impaired either by lack of vitamin D by any condition causing small intestinal hurry, by the combination of calcium with excess fatty acids to form insoluble soaps in steatorrhoea, or by food containing oxalate like in spinach or phytate (whole grain cereals) which can form insoluble salts with calcium.
Why do we need calcium in our bodies?
We need calcium for many reasons in our body. Calcium is the most obvious and persistent of the micro-nutrients, the fifth most abundant element, and the most abundant cation in the body. Any reduction in the plasma calcium does not show in the plasma concentration, which is immediately reset by increased parathyroid secretion and formation of 1, 25 dihydroxy- vitamin D, probably because any change of ionized plasma concentration would disturb neuromuscular irritability and blood coagulation.
The most likely cause of reduced plasma calcium is low albumin, with reduced protein-bound calcium. Likewise, intracellular plasma concentration, which affects the activities of many enzymes, is also tightly controlled. Now coming to various roles played in our body.
These are the following
- Calcium is important for the development of bones in children and the maintenance of bone strength in adults. Females after menopause usually land in osteoporosis due to low estrogen levels and brittle bones. Even at that time external supplementation of calcium is given
- Calcium is responsible for muscle constriction. Nerves stimulate a muscle, and hence calcium is released. This release of calcium helps the proteins in the body to carry out the work of contraction.
- Micro nutrients like calcium are very much important in blood clotting.
- The calcium also helps in smooth muscle relaxation that surrounds the blood vessels. Many studies have shown a relationship between high calcium levels and lower blood pressure.
- The parathyroid also works properly in adequate amounts of calcium. Low levels of calcium results in parathyroid overactivity.
- Premenstrual syndrome that includes a variety of symptoms in females before their cycle starts is also related to low levels of calcium. Regular intake of adequate amounts of calcium reduces the pms symptoms like cravings, bloating, mood swings, and pain too.
- You can also add calcium-rich products to your diet to avoid or prevent PMS symptoms.
- It also plays a very important role in digestion as it is known to behave as an antacid. Even some research has proved that adequate levels of calcium in the body reduce the chances of colon and rectal cancers. But you should have proper levels of vitamin D in your body.
- The high levels of low-density lipoproteins are also reduced when you take an acceptable amount of calcium in your diet along with a low-calorie diet. Alongside it also increases the high-density lipoprotein.
- In pregnancy low calcium levels can lead to high blood pressure that’s why external supplementation of calcium is orally administered.
Recommended intake of calcium
The amount of calcium that has to be added to the bones to produce the final adult amount averages 180 mg/day from 0 to 18 years but reaches 400mg/day at the peak of adolescent growth.
Calcium-rich dietary sources
Generally, the dietary sources that are rich in calcium include milk, cheese, paneer, yoghut, fish especially pilchards, shellfish, nuts like almonds and peanuts, fortified pieces of bread, egg especially the white portion of the egg, some pulses like chickpeas and beans, and also some vegetables like spinach, broccoli, mustard greens, and kale. Fruits that are moderately rich in calcium include oranges. Dandelions, cabbage, okra, etc are also good sources of calcium.
To maintain proper calcium levels in the body, a person also needs vitamin D in the body that regulates absorption of vitamin D. Vitamin D can be naturally provided to the body using soya milk, salmon, and tuna. The most natural source of vitamin D is sunlight.
Herbo minerals as the source of calcium carbonate
As we have discussed the importance of calcium in the human body, so now we will discuss the herbo mineral source of calcium carbonate as described in Ayurveda. Ayurveda explains Mukta (Pearl) as the source of calcium carbonate. It is mentioned that (r.r.s 4/15, 17)
Mukta has various properties. These properties are light to digest (laghu), cold in potency (sheeta veerya), madhur in rasa (taste), increases the kanti of the body, improves eyesight, maintains healthy digestion, and improves the quality of life. It is typically termed as shareer pushtikarak which means it maintains the skeleton (bones) of the body which are the root framework of the body, enhances the working of the heart, and reduces the constrictions in muscles. In short, it provides nourishment to the whole body. It also pacifies kapha, pitta, and respiratory conditions, reduces pain in bones by nourishing them and improves body metabolism.
Above all are the qualities of mukta. Mukta is prepared in the form of powder and hence called as mukta pishti in classics. Intake of this pishti gradually increases your bone strength and hence provides you with a strong and durable skeleton framework.
Calcium is one of the most important requirements of our body because it not only supports bones but also supports many other systems. That’s why it is very important to maintain adequate levels of calcium in the body along with noticing the signs of calcium deficiency. In today’s fast life we need really natural ways to maintain and fulfill the deficiencies in our systems and opting for Ayurveda can be a very good choice.
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