Vitamins and Minerals
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Why is it important to have enough Calcium in our diets?
Calcium is the most abundant mineral in the body and has been well recognized for its ability to keep bones healthy and strong. 99% of calcium is found in the bones and teeth, and the other 1% is found in the blood, soft tissue and tissue fluid. However, many of us consume only half of the body’s daily calcium requirements.
The absorption of calcium is also dependant upon vitamin D, so if there is a deficiency in calcium, there is generally a deficiency in vitamin D. Vitamin D is found in cod liver oil, eggs, butter and liver. The body also makes vitamin D when the skin is exposed to sunlight.
Most people eat dairy products as their primary source of calcium, but there are a number of other alternatives. Calcium supplements are available for those who find it difficult to reach the necessary levels during the day, but if you want to incorporate more calcium rich foods to your diet, you can add sesame seeds, dried figs, sardines, bean curd, molasses, parsley and broccoli.
Caffeine, alcohol, protein, salt and sugar all increase the calcium excretion from the body, thereby reducing its levels. Cooking with aluminium cookware or aluminium foil may also lead to calcium loss.
The functions of calcium include the formation of strong bones and teeth, blood pressure regulation, keeping the heart healthy, helping nerve cells to communicate normally, aiding muscle contraction and promoting blood clotting. New research has indicated that it may also help to prevent heart attacks, premenstrual tension and colon cancer.
A deficiency in calcium may lead to rickets in children, muscle cramps, loss of muscle tone, osteoporosis, poor tooth structure, palpitations, irregular heartbeat and high blood pressure.
Calcium also works very well with the mineral, magnesium. Magnesium is found in wheat bran, almonds, cashew nuts, blackstrap molasses, rye, brown rice and whole wheat bread.
If you suffer from back problems, try calcium, alone or with magnesium, to help strengthen your bones. Some people who find that they have difficulty sleeping at night may be suffering from a deficiency in calcium. By taking a calcium and magnesium supplement, one may find that they can enjoy a good nights rest. Regular doses of calcium and magnesium may also contribute towards preventing or relieving migraines.
Research has indicated that those who take the recommended amount of calcium together with a diet that is lower in protein and salt, have a better chance of preventing kidney stones and their recurrence, than those who are on a low calcium diet.
Please consult with your doctor if you have any questions regarding the above.
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