Calcium is one of the most important and abundant minerals in the body. It is absorbed in the small intestine, and this process is dependent on vitamin D. To provide the rigid structure of the skeleton calcium is vital. Approximately 3 pounds of the body's weight is calcium, 99 % being in the teeth and bones. Calcium is important in growing children to help bones grow and in the elderly, as the ability to absorb calcium becomes impaired with age.
Functions of Calcium
Together with magnesium, calcium is needed for nerves and muscles to function properly. It also helps to maintain the right acid/alkaline balance and helps blood to clot. An adult needs a daily calcium intake of between 700 and 1000mg. Those at risk of osteoporosis may need as much as 1500mg a day. This protection is boosted when combined with linoleic acid from evening primrose oil. Calcium and phosphorus work together on a ratio of two to one for healthy teeth and bones and calcium and magnesium work together for cardiovascular health. The two most deficient minerals in a woman's diet are calcium and iron.
Calcium supplements have been shown to protect against pre-eclampsia which is high blood pressure in pregnancy. It is a good idea to increase calcium consumption during the last three months of pregnancy and the first few months of lactation to ensure that the baby gets sufficient amount of calcium to help bone development and growth. If the baby doesn't get enough calcium from its mother, it will be withdrawn from the mother's bones, possibly leading to bone disease in the future.
Signs of prolonged calcium deficiency are rickets, osteomalacia and osteoporosis.
Calcium, like sodium and potassium, contributes to both extracellular and intracellular cell environment. Calcium is also needed as intercellular cement to keep the cells of the body together. It also controls fluid to allow enzyme reaction to take place. Calcium is vital for the contraction of muscle. The brain sends nerve impulses that release calcium in the muscle which triggers muscle reactions. Calcium also helps to control cholesterol.
Calcium helps in the process of secretion: bile, pancreatic fluid, gastric, intestinal, hormonal and mucous all rely on calcium to move the small droplets through the cells boundaries and cell walls.