Calcium is required by the body in abundance. Calcium is commonly thought to be an essential part of strong bones, that is true but calcium does much more to our body than only strengthening the skeletal structure. The several roles played by calcium include nerve impulse conduction, muscle contraction, proper actions of hormones and enzymes, and helps in the blood clot. The list does not end here, new researches are in progress which is focusing calcium’s role against various diseases.
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Keeping water aside, calcium is the most found mineral in the body. An average man has calcium that is approx 2.5% of his body weight. Nevertheless, Calcium is very sensitive to an imbalanced diet, and one of the first elements to be affected. Calcium is responsible formation and maintenance of bone and teeth. However, calcium also plays a significant role in various functions in the body; most of them directly affect the growth of the body.
It is very vital in the nervous system, circulatory system, and muscular system of the body. Calcium also plays important role in supporting hormone functions. Calcium supports cell membrane permeability, easing the passage of material across the membrane. Calcium also helps muscle regulatory tone, regulation of heartbeat, and coordination between various organs and systems e.g. muscle reflex and response to a nerve impulse.
Calcium is a positive alkaline, a mineral that possesses a powerful attraction for oxygen. Calcium also easily bonds in the body are sulfur, silicon, and carbon. Calcium is necessary for human life. Calcium binds with phosphorus to create form the hard, crystal-like materials that form the latticework making bones stronger. It is as well vital in the mechanism of stimulation of many other enzymes in the body to enhance proper functioning.
Premenstrual syndrome (PMS) comprises a collection of symptoms that influence approximately 40 percent of women of childbearing age. To date, calcium is found to be the most effective in treating Premenstrual Syndrome Disorder. Several feminine hormones, including estrogen, are reported to affect calcium absorption and thus metabolism. With this concept, it is considered the calcium deficiency is one of the major causes of Premenstrual Syndrome. A study in 1998 tested this hypothesis on women suffering from PMS by giving them a daily 1,200mg of supplemental calcium for three months or a placebo. It was then found through research that patients who consume calcium reported noteworthy improvement in periodic pain, hunger and mood swings, and other symptoms related to PMS. All this noted a remarkable treatment of this disorder. (Thys-Jacobs, & Starkey, 1998).
Effects Of Dietary Calcium
Calcium is a primary constituent of bone, but if metabolic needs for it are not met by the diet, calcium is removed from the skeleton to fulfill those needs. Calcium requirements are greater during growth, so if insufficient calcium is consumed, the strength of the skeleton both during growth and in later adult years may be compromised. Children consuming low-calcium diets may have other nutritional deficiencies or health problems that obscure the effects of calcium in their diets. Whether the depreciating effects of a low-calcium diet are reversible through supplementation has been examined. Studies showed that diets containing 20% or 50% of recommended calcium concentrations, fed from early puberty to beyond the onset of sexual maturity resulted in bone changes that were only partially reversible by a diet adequate in calcium. (Zemel, & Hang, S., 2000) The reversibility of calcium deficiency in children may depend on age and pubertal stage, as greater benefits have been reported when supplemental calcium was administered before puberty.
In developed countries, children enrolled in calcium supplementation trials are less deficient in their baseline intakes than Asians or Africans. However, calcium supplementation still increases bone mineral content or density. It remains uncertain if the average calcium intake of American girls, although considered suboptimal, causes bone fragility.
Effects Of Growth And Puberty
Bone turnover is rapid during growth, with formation exceeding resorption. During pre-and early puberty, appendicular bones increase in length and width. In the cortical bone of the appendicular skeleton, high bone turnover rates in pre-and early puberty result in a rapid increase in both the periosteal and endosteal surfaces. A high bone formation rate drives increased periosteal apposition, while a high bone resorption rate increases resorption on the endosteal surface. Even as total skeletal mass increases with growth, cortical width is maintained.
Unluckily, normally people don’t know the sufficient amount of calcium required and thus do not consume the required amount of calcium. For this reason, more than 28 million American people are at stake of being affected by osteoporosis. More alarming is the ratio of women to men; women are four times more prone to suffer from this disorder. Since the bones under continuous change, calcium also needs variation accordingly at various stages of life. It is recommended the calcium-rich food should be taken more frequently than any other mineral, probably up to four servings. (Holt, & Atillasoy, 1998).
High Blood Pressure
Approximately 25% of Americans suffer from hypertension (i.e., high blood pressure), which, if not treated timely, can increase the risk of stroke and heart disease. Usually, hypertension patients have been prescribed to follow a low-salt diet. (Harsha, & Pao-Hwa, 1999) Nevertheless, current research shows a high-calcium diet, which is as well rich in potassium, magnesium, and dietary fiber may be just as effective at lowering blood pressure.
The Calcium/Colon Cancer Link
Calcium is also responsible for the prevention of Colon cancer. A high-fat diet is considered to support cancerous cell production in the colon because fat enhances the production of bile salts. According to Baron, & Beach, (1999), calcium can reduce the risk of colon cancer by combining with bile salts forming insoluble soaps. These resultant insoluble soaps prevent the bile salts from affecting the colon.
How Much Calcium Is Enough?
Sufficient dietary calcium and weight-bearing exercise are accepted factors in the formation of a strong skeleton. They both represent real opportunities for skeletal improvement because they are relatively easy and inexpensive to modify. Dietary intake of calcium can be increased through school lunch programs, fortified foods, and indirectly through nutritional education.
Calcium And Neurotransmission
As neurotransmission depends on the availability of external calcium, it may be that a post-synaptic neuron can use back-propagating action potentials to adapt the transmission probabilities of overlying afferent terminals. The geometrical distribution of calcium sinks again influences the time and spatial extent of fluctuations in external calcium. In particular, clusters of co-active dendrites can prolong and amplify an external calcium fluctuation. This latter effect provides a natural substrate for a computational mechanism that indexes (locates) specific volumes of neural tissue on rapid time scales (Wiest et al, 2000).
Calcium And Muscle Functions
Mammalian skeletal muscle shows a vast inconsistency in its functional features such as rate of force production, confrontation to fatigue, and energy metabolism, with a wide range from slow aerobic to fast anaerobic physiology. In addition, skeletal muscle exhibits high plasticity that is based on the potential of the muscle fibers to change their cytoarchitecture and composition of specific muscle protein isoforms. Adaptive changes of the muscle fibers occur in response to a variety of stimuli such as e.g., growth and differentiation factors, hormones, nerve signals, or exercise. Additionally, the muscle fibers are arranged in compartments that often function as largely independent muscular subunits.
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Low calcium consumption and the growing trend towards inactivity in children and adolescents may result in decreased skeletal competence. It does appear that impact exercise performed during growth can enhance skeletal strength. Calcium and exercise may function independently or interact in a compensatory or possibly even a synergistic fashion. The best strategy for strong bones by the end of childhood may be either high-impact exercise with a moderate or adequate calcium intake or a combination of moderate-impact exercise and adequate calcium during growth.
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