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Calcium Nutrition Benefits

Most people know that calcium nutrition is important to bone development and maintenance. However, few are aware of the other health and nutritional benefits that calcium assists with, nor are they aware of the serious signs of a calcium deficiency. Learning what calcium is, how it works in the body and foods that can help avoid a calcium deficiency is important information for all, particularly with an interest in natural cures and home remedies.

calcium Calcium Nutrition Benefits

Nutritional Benefits

Calcium is a mineral found in the bones, blood and teeth. It helps in not only increasing their strength and development, but it also ensures the following nutritional benefits:

  • Helps the heart and other muscles maintain proper contractions and relaxation
  • Helps in activating key enzymes
  • Helps the body better absorb vitamin B12
  • Helps the body neutralize fluids
  • Helps in regulating cell permeability
  • Helps in healthy blood clotting
  • Helps the body optimize its use of iron

Calcium Nutrition and Health Benefits

The health benefits of this essential mineral are also plentiful, such as:

  • Healthy bone development and growth

  • Healthy tooth development and growth
  • Healthy pregnancies
  • May assist in lowering blood pressure
  • May help in preventing colon cancer
  • May help in preventing cataracts
  • May help prevent and treat premenstrual syndrome
  • May help prevent kidney stones

Symptoms of Calcium Deficiency

When one is deficient in calcium there are no immediate symptoms. However, osteoporosis is perhaps the most commonly noted long-term effect. Literally meaning “porous bones,” osteoporosis is the quite painful and even crippling result of a loss of calcium. It often results in:

  • Hip fractures
  • Spinal fractures
  • A loss of height
  • “Dowager’s Hump” (the rounded hump seen in the backs of people who suffer from a calcium deficiency)

The following are major contributing factors to a deficiency of this mineral:

  • A high protein diet
  • Cigarette smoking
  • Alcohol consumption
  • A lack of physical activity
  • Excessive intake of phosphorus (commonly found in soft drinks)
  • Diuretics (such as caffeine)
  • Certain antacids
  • Laxatives
  • Emotional stress

A calcium deficiency can be avoided, however, by targeting a healthy diet and lifestyle. The best nutritional source for this mineral is dairy foods, but it can also be found in certain vegetables. While maintaining proper amounts of it is important, what is more important is that the body is able to absorb enough of it from the intestines and put it to good use. Each of the following helps in optimizing the rate of absorption:

    Regular exercise

  • Having a need for calcium, such as a growth spurt or a deficiency

  • Maintaining a regular supply of vitamin D
    from dietary sources

  • Assuring that adequate amounts of fluorine are supplied to the body
  • Maintaining an adequate supply of lactose in the diet
  • Maintaining an acidic environment in the upper intestinal tract

People over the age of 35 are at a heightened risk of deficiency primarily because there is a gradual reduction in the calcium found in bones after this age. This is particularly true for post-menopausal women who experience a loss of estrogen and a decreased capacity to absorb calcium in the intestines.

Calcium Food Sources

The following is a list of some of the best food sources for this essential Calcium nutrition mineral:

  • Plain, unsweetened yogurt
  • Milk
  • Cheese
  • Soy milk
  • Cream of Wheat
  • Oatmeal
  • Corn tortillas
  • Cornbread
  • Blackstrap molasses
  • Figs
  • Oranges
  • Raisins
  • Prunes
  • Broccoli
  • Artichokes
  • Collard greens
  • Mustard greens
  • Kale greens
  • Turnip greens
  • Spinach
  • Rhubarb
  • Rutabagas
  • Soybeans
  • Almonds
  • Kidney beans
  • White beans

Calcium Nutrition Precaution

The following drugs may inhibit absorption:

  • Certain antibiotics
  • Thyroid hormones
  • Antacids containing aluminum
  • Corticosteroids
  • Dilantin and other anticonvulsant medications

Hormone replacement therapy may also prevent adequate absorption in women.

It should be noted that, in serious cases of a deficiency, increasing intake with synthetic supplements may be recommended. However, most supplements only contain small amounts of the mineral and one should be very careful about relying on them as a sole source. Also, many rely on the calcium supplied by dolomite, oyster shells or bone meal, but each of these may also contain high levels of lead and other substances known to be toxic to the body. To assure that an adequate amount is being ingested and absorbed, always check the labels on supplements, as well as seek to increase intake primarily through the calcium nutrition-rich foods named above.

Calcium nutrition is important at any age. Although there is more of a risk of developing a deficiency in older generations, avoiding foods that are a threat to absorption, such as soft drinks, which are high in phosphorus, and maintaining a daily exercise regimen from a young age decreases the chance of developing a deficiency as the body ages. It is particularly important for young women to understand that healthy lifestyle choices made today will greatly reduce their risk of developing osteoporosis due to a calcium deficiency later in life.