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Are you consuming calcium-rich foods? Know them | 24 Mantra

Get Acquainted With Your Nutrients - Calcium

Get-Acquainted-With-Your-Nutrients-–-Calcium

Get Acquainted With Your Nutrients – Calcium

Health and Nutrition
18.06.2019

Calcium is a mineral which plays a vital role in many body functions. It is present in the highest amount among different minerals in the body.

Calcium is important for

  • bone and teeth formation
  • clotting of blood
  • heart function
  • muscle and nerve control

 

It is therefore very important that sufficient calcium is provided through dietary sources.

Calcium rich foods

  • Dairy products
  • Ragi
  • Whole legumes
  • Dried fish
  • Nuts and oil seeds (Sesame, groundnuts)
  • Dry coconut.

Calcium fortified or enriched foods are also good sources of calcium. For example many breakfast cereals, bread, orange juice, tofu and soy milk/beverages are fortified with calcium.

There are several calcium supplements available in the form of carbonate, citrate, lactate and gluconate. Of all the forms of calcium supplements, calcium carbonate supplies the most calcium and it has a slightly better efficiency of absorption for most people when taken with food

How much calcium do we need? 

Birth to 6 months210 mg
6 to 12 months270 mg
1 to 3 years500 mg
4 to 8 years800 mg
9 to 18 years1300 mg
19 to 50 years1000 mg
50 + years1200 mg

 

Function of calcium

Around 99 percent of the calcium in the human body is found in the bones and teeth. It is essential for the development, growth, and maintenance of bone. Calcium continues to be deposited in the bones of humans until they attain 20-25 years when bone density is at the peak. After the age of 30 – 35 years bone density starts to decline. Calcium continues to help maintain bone strength. Calcium is associated with vascular contraction, vasodilation, muscle functions, nerve transmission, intracellular signaling and hormonal secretion.

Calcium deficiency

Intake of diets which are poor in calcium over a long period of time result in decrease in bone mass and lead to increase in the risk of osteoporosis and fractures.  Bone density test is done to see if osteoporosis has affected the bone. Osteoporosis is also called a silent disease as there are no symptoms until the person fractures a bone. Only then tests are done and osteoporosis is diagnosed. In children calcium deficiency leads to rickets a disease of the bones. To prevent osteoporosis and rickets it is essential to take balanced diet containing sufficient amount of calcium.

Factors affecting calcium absorption

  • Vitamin D is essential for calcium absorption. Deficiency of vitamin D leads to decreased calcium absorption.
  • Phosphates in large amounts lower calcium absorption.
  • Phytic acid and oxalic acid in the diet form insoluble complex with calcium salts and interferes with absorption.

How to improve calcium absorption?

Phytic acid interferes with absorption of dietary calcium. Phytic acid is present in the outer layers such as hulls of seeds, grains and nuts. There are methods by which the amount of phytic acid can be reduced when we cook or prepare food. Cooking, soaking the food in acidic medium using lime juice, fermenting and sprouting reduce phytic acid levels.

Calcium can also be got from supplements but it is always wise to get it from food. In case there is a problem it is better to consult a doctor and take necessary steps to overcome the problem. Knowing what are the foods which contain the nutrient and including them in the diet is the first step towards preventing deficiency diseases including calcium.

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