Calcium noted as ‘Ca’ with atomic number 20 in the periodic table of elements, is an earth metal found in huge amounts by mass in animals and man. Calcium is a major element needed for mineralization of bone and teeth.
Hence calcium is very important for every individual for the proper functioning of bones and muscles, a small percent of it is found in blood and other tissues as well.
Calcium is needed not only for strong bones and teeth; it also helps to regulate heartbeat, clot blood and stimulating nerve impulses. Along with calcium, D vitamin also helps in maintaining bone health.
Calcium is absorbed by our body in two ways; one is from calcium loaded diet this includes mostly dairy products, green leafy vegetables or beans. The other way is from our own bones.
The second process occurs only when blood levels of calcium are about to get depleted or if the individual has not taken calcium included meal in a while. This “borrowed” calcium from bones is compensated at a later point of time automatically.
How Does It Work On Middle Aged Women?
In any given normal person who gets enough calcium filled diet along with physical activity, bone production is dominant over bone destruction. In women, this is seen till 30 years only. After that, the bone destruction dominates bone production.
Around 8 million women suffer from osteoporosis, a disease which results in bone damage due to lack of enough calcium in the body. Most of them suffer after a menopausal period. The loss of bone after 30 years of age is due to several factors like genetic factors, physical inactivity, and lower levels or hormones.
Hence, the adequate calcium intake and good physical activity before 30 years of age is a great foundation for future also slows down bone destruction or osteoporosis by 10-12 years.
According to National Academy of Sciences, calcium intake levels prescribed for every individual are 1,000 milligrams/day for that age 19 to 50; 1,200 milligrams/day for that age 50 or over; 1,000 milligrams/day for pregnant or lactating adult women. Levels of intake change accordingly to climatic conditions, geographical conditions, and physical activity levels of the person
While the above-said levels are necessary for countries like Europe and U.S, it may not be a necessary condition for those living in Asian countries where an abundance of sunlight and hard work. Calcium also helps in turning down the tendency of fat cells in the body from storing calories. This results in better metabolism and in turn reducing obesity.
An overall study reveals that females are less likely to absorb calcium than males. This proves that after a certain age, females are to take more calcium intake than males. Every time calcium consumed, some amount of it is eliminated from the body through urine or feces. This is caused due to several factors like high intake of protein or sodium causes calcium excretion through urine. Alcohol or caffeine intake reduces absorption and also causes high calcium excretion.
Hypocalcaemia or calcium deficiency causes many medical problems such as renal failure, surgical removal of stomach, numbness, muscle cramps, convulsions, lethargy, poor appetite, and abnormal heart rhythms. If left untreated, hypocalcaemia might also lead to death. Calcium deficiency causes osteoporosis and increases the risk of bone fractures in elders and may also cause rickets.
The group of people who may fall under the risk of hypocalcemia may include Postmenopausal women, women suffering from Amenorrhea, people with lactose intolerance or allergy towards milk and vegetarians who do not include dairy products in their diet. While calcium intake helps in regulating heartbeat, it is also said that calcium deficiency leads to cardiovascular diseases, blood pressure, and hypertension.
While calcium intake is good for maintaining normal health and also bone health; it has been noted that too much of calcium in the body may also cause some serious damages.
Overdosage of calcium at any time may cause constipation. But above that level of consumption, may possibly result in increased risk of ovarian cancer in females, prostate cancer, colon cancer and rectum cancer. High calcium content in the body may result in serious kidney stones problem. It also interferes with bodily absorption of different minerals like iron and zinc.
The main food sources that provide calcium are Milk, yogurt, and cheese in dairy products, Kale, broccoli, and Chinese cabbage in vegetables, Fish with soft bones, such as canned sardines and salmon in meat, most grains, such as bread, pasta, and unfortified cereals though not rich in calcium, yet they can add significant amounts to our body, Seaweeds, such as kelp, hijiki and wakame, Nuts and seeds, including pistachio, sesame, almonds, hazelnuts,
Whatever the adverse effects may be, according to researchers from McGill University in Canada, Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism says that women whose diet includes calcium probably live longer.