What is Calcium?
Calcium is an extremely important mineral for proper functioning of the bodily functions. It is the most abundant mineral in the body making up a large part of the bone structure. It is so essential to good health that the body self regulates the calcium it needs. Approximately 1% of the calcium in the body is needed for correct bodily functions. Excess calcium is stored in the teeth and bones, and if there is ever a shortage of calcium in the diet then the body will draw what it needs from these stores.
This tight regulation and flow of calcium to and from the bones and teeth means that calcium deficiency or hypocalcemia can go unnoticed for a long time.
Symptoms of calcium deficiency can include tiredness, a loss of appetite, numbness and tingling sensations in the fingers and toes, muscle cramps and an abnormal heart rhythm. If left untreated (ie through the taking of appropriate amounts of calcium in the diet) the body will draw the calcium it needs from the bones, leading to fragile and brittle bone structure and eventually osteoporosis. The risk of fracturing bones increases particularly in the elderly and calcium deficiency will eventually lead to death if allowed to continue for too long.
At particular risk from calcium deficiency are post-menopausal women and those that are lactose intolerant or vegetarian. Also amenorrheic women and those suffering from the female athlete triad are also at risk.
Calcium: Recommended Daily Allowance*:
|*All measurements expressed in mg.|