Calcium has the atomic number of 20 and the human body needs calcium more than any other mineral. A man
weighing 70 kg. contains one kg. of calcium. About 99 per cent of
the quantity in the body is used for building strong bones and teeth
and the remaining one per cent is used by the blood, muscles and
nerves. Calcium performs many important functions. Without this
mineral , the contractions of the heart would be faulty, the muscles
would not contract properly to make the limbs move and blood would
not clot. Calcium stimulates enzymes in the digestive process and
coordinates the functions of all other minerals in the body.
Calcium also helps to protect colon cells from cancer-causing
chemicals, prevents the bone loss that can occur as a result of
menopause or certain conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis, helps
to prevent migraine headaches, reduces PMS symptoms during the
luteal phase (the second half) of the menstrual cycle.
Calcium also plays a role in many other vital physiological
activities, including blood clotting, nerve conduction, muscle
contraction, regulation of enzyme activity, cell membrane function
and blood pressure regulation. Because these activities are
essential to life, the body utilises complex regulatory systems to
tightly control the amount of calcium in the blood, so that
sufficient calcium is always available. As a result, when dietary
intake of calcium is too low to maintain adequate blood levels, calcium stores are drawn out of the bones to maintain
normal blood concentrations.
improves the absorption of
which aids in the absorption of calcium.
A deficiency of calcium may cause porous and fragile bones, tooth decay, heart palpitations, muscle cramps, insomnia and irritability. A large increase in the dietary supply of calcium is needed in tetany and when the bones are decalcified due to poor calcium absorption, as in rickets, oesteomalacia and the mal-absorption syndrome. Liberal quantity of calcium is also necessary when excessive calcium has been lost from the body as in hyperparathyroidism or chronic renal disease.
Calcium cannot achieve its
phosphorous is also present in a proper balance. Too much
phosphorous, though, can cause diarrhoea and calcification (hardening) of organs
and soft tissue and can interfere with the body's ability to use
and zinc. It
is a matter of getting the balance right which is why supplementation is not
advised. Foods that contain these minerals will never overdose the consumer with
Hypercalcaemia occurs when there is high levels of calcium in the blood and muscles and can lead to irreversible kidney damage. Taking high doses of vitamin D supplements can cause this. The symptoms of hypercalcaemia include: