Calcium is one of the most important minerals for our bodies, essential for our bone health, and much more.
But what is calcium used for? Is it true that it is found only in dairy products?
The Purposes of Calcium
Calcium is the most abundant mineral in the body, and most of it is accumulated as carbonate within the bones.
It is essential for the development and health of teeth and bones. Bones actually undergo a continuous remodeling process, which involves the reabsorption and deposition of calcium within new bone tissue.
This is calcium’s primary function: in fact, only 1% takes part in other functions, such as nerve transmission, hormone secretion, muscle contraction, vasodilation, and blood vessel contraction.
Calcium: Not Only in Dairy Products
Although the primary dietary sources of calcium are milk and its derivatives – particularly yogurt and cheese – calcium is present in some dark green leafy vegetables, such as green cabbage and broccoli, in legumes – especially chickpeas – and in many fish and shellfish, in clams, sardines, and mussels. It can be found in nuts, too, particularly almonds, walnuts, hazelnuts, and pistachios.
In addition, calcium can also be taken through hydration by drinking effervescent natural waters that are particularly rich in it.
The recommended daily calcium intake is 800 mg., although individual requirements change, of course, depending on the individual’s age, lifestyle, and health status. As with other nutrients, the daily requirement for calcium increases significantly during pregnancy and lactation.
Calcium Deficiency: The Consequences
Calcium deficiencies may remain asymptomatic in the short term. Still, if not properly treated, they can lead to even serious consequences.
A diet low in calcium can cause symptoms such as muscle cramps, convulsions, drowsiness, tingling and numbness of the fingers, poor appetite, and abnormal heartbeat. It can eventually cause osteopenia and even osteoporosis.
Calcium Excess: The Consequences
As important as it is, calcium should not be consumed excessively. Excessive consumption can cause constipation and interfere with the absorption of iron and zinc.
Too much calcium in your blood can also lead to issues that should not be underestimated, such as kidney failure, increased calcium in the urine and kidney stones, and calcification of blood vessels and soft tissues.