Calcium: Why do we need it? Calcium: Why do we need it?

Calcium is the main component that makes up our bones and teeth, which is why it is essential to having good bone mineralization.

According to the U.S. Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, 99% of the calcium in our bodies are found in these structures. This mineral is not only essential to keeping our bones healthy, it also performs vital functions such as aiding in the muscle contraction process, helping the blood to clot, facilitating a healthy heartbeat and contributing to a healthy nervous system.

What are the effects of a calcium deficiency?

When a person is calcium deficient, either for genetic reasons or because of low levels of calcium (osteoporosis), the bones can become more fragile, leading to a greater risk of bone fractures.

Low calcium levels can also cause periodontal diseases and neuromuscular problems such as muscle weakness, cramping and seizures. Not consuming enough calcium is also related to an increase in blood pressure.

What if you have too much calcium?

An excess amount of calcium (hypercalcemia) can cause symptoms such as constipation, nausea, vomiting, stomach pain, muscle weakness, irritability, confusion, bone pain and an increased frequency in urination.

Such an excess can result from taking calcium supplements in doses that are too high. Certain conditions can also cause this, however, such as hyperparathyroidism, hyperthyroidism or kidney failure.

Some calcium-rich foods

According to the U.S. Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, the greatest sources of calcium are found in dairy products; however, foods such as legumes, green leafy vegetables, nuts, seeds and sardines are also good sources of this mineral.

The excess intake of phosphorus, fiber or caffeine (more than 4 cups of coffee a day) reduces calcium absorption. Similarly, diets that are high in protein increase the amount of calcium excreted through the urine.

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