Calcium is a vital macronutrient, in the presence of which more than 300 biochemical reactions occur in the human body.
The mineral plays a primary role in the construction and strengthening of bone tissue, participates in the processes of blood clotting, normalization of myocardial contractility, skeletal muscles, restoring the balance between the reactions of excitation, inhibition in the brain, regulation of the activity of certain enzymes.
The compound got its name from the word "Calx", which in Latin means "Lime".
The total concentration of calcium in the human body is 2% of body weight (1000 - 1500 grams), with the main amount (99%) contained in bone tissue, nails, enamel and dentin of teeth.
Macronutrient value: regulates blood pressure, tissue and intercellular fluids (together with sodium, magnesium and potassium); participates in the formation of bone tissue, including teeth and cartilage; maintains normal blood clotting by potentiating the transition of prothrombin to thrombin; enhances the permeability of membranes for the penetration of hormones, nutrients; potentiates the production of cellular and humoral immunity, as a result of which the body's resistance to infections improves; maintains skeletal muscle tone; neutralizes the negative effects of lactic and uric acid that accumulate in the muscles due to the breakdown of fats and proteins (during physical exertion); participates in the mechanisms of transmission of nerve impulses to the brain; normalizes the synthesis of proteins and nucleic acids in smooth muscles; seals the walls of blood vessels, which leads to a decrease in the release of histamine compounds; stabilizes the acid-base balance in the body; activates the action of enzymes involved in the formation of neurotransmitters.
The normal concentration of calcium in the blood is 2.2 millimoles per litre. Deviations from this indicator indicate a deficiency or excess of the compound in the body. Consider the symptoms indicating the development of hypo or hypercalcemia.
Shortage and overdose
Calcium is stored in the porous structure of long bones. In case of insufficient intake of the mineral with food, the body “goes” to mobilize the compound from the bone tissue, as a result of which demineralization of the pelvic bones, spine and lower extremities occurs. Signs of calcium deficiency:
- pain in the joints, bones, teeth;
- muscle weakness;
- brittle nails;
- increased blood calcium levels;
- skin rashes;
- rapid pulse;
- muscle spasms;
- numbness of limbs;
- appearance of microcracks on tooth enamel;
- pale face;
- mental decline;
- stunting, rickets (in children);
- spinal deformity, frequent bone fractures;
- tooth decay;
- allergic reactions;
- decreased blood clotting;
- Profuse menses.
In 80% of cases, hypocalcemia is asymptomatic, which leads to the development of serious pathologies: osteoporosis, kidney stone formation, hypertension, osteochondrosis. To prevent these problems, it is important to identify and eliminate the factors that provoke a macronutrient deficiency in the body in advance.
Reasons for the development of calcium deficiency:
- lack of foods containing a useful compound in the diet;
- violation of the absorption of the element in the intestine, due to dysbacteriosis or the absence of the lactase enzyme that breaks down milk protein;
- excess lead in the body, zinc, magnesium, iron, potassium, phosphorus, sodium;
- chronic diseases of the digestive tract (pancreatitis, diabetes mellitus, renal failure, gastric or duodenal ulcer);
- thyroid diseases in which the synthesis of the hormone calcitonin, which controls calcium metabolism, is impaired;
- increased consumption of a “bone-forming” nutrient due to stressful situations, smoking, physical exertion, pregnancy, breastfeeding;
- excessive consumption of beverages that inhibit intestinal absorption of the mineral (coffee, alcohol, soda, energy drinks);
- deficiency in the diet of vitamin D, especially in case of vegetarianism, raw food diet;
- long-term use of laxatives and diuretics, which “wash out” the building mineral from the body.
In addition, calcium metabolism is impaired due to excessive excretion of the compound in the urine (idiopathic hypercalciuria), low absorption of the substance in the intestines (intestinal malabsorption), formation of kidney stones (calcium nephrolithiasis), hyperfunction of the parathyroid glands, hypertension.
To eliminate the symptoms of hypocalcemia, it is necessary to enrich the daily diet with calcium-containing foods or complex dietary supplements, the main active component of which is the missing macronutrient. When using medications, consult with your doctor first.
In the process of drawing up a diet, keep in mind that daily intake of more than 2500 milligrams of the mineral against the background of calcium metabolism disorders leads to intense calcification of bones, blood vessels and internal organs, resulting in persistent hypercalcemia.
Symptoms of excess compound in the body:
- loss of appetite;
- frequent urination;
- decreased smooth muscle tone;
- epigastric discomfort;
- increased urinary and blood calcium levels;
- angina and bradycardia;
- cognitive decline;
- kidney and bladder stones;
In some cases, hypercalcemia occurs as a result of hereditary thyroid pathologies, in particular, multiple endocrine neoplasia, and sometimes due to malignant neoplasms.
The daily requirement for calcium directly depends on the age and sex of the person. Moreover, the largest amount of a macronutrient is required by a growing body, pregnant and lactating women.
The Daily Value for calcium is:
- for newborns under 6 months of age, 400 milligrams;
- for toddlers (1-5 years old) 600 milligrams;
- for students under 10, 800 milligrams;
- for children aged 10 to 13, 1,000 milligrams;
- for teenagers and young people under 24 years old - 1300 - 1500 milligrams;
- for women (25 to 55 years old) and men (25 to 65 years old) - 1000 milligrams;
- for menopausal women (from 55 to 85 years old) and older men (from 65 to 85 years old) - 1300 - 1500 milligrams;
- Pregnant and breastfeeding women 1500-2000 milligrams.
Calcium requirement increases with:
- intense exercise;
- profuse sweating;
- taking anabolic steroids;
- hormone therapy.
Remember, it is important to monitor the amount of calcium consumed daily, since a lack of the mineral is fraught with osteoporosis of the bones, and an excess is fraught with kidney and bladder stones.
Considering that calcium is involved in the formation of bone, connective and nervous tissues, it is important to ensure a regular intake of the macronutrient with food.
|Product name||Calcium content per 100 grams of product, milligram|
|Hard cheeses||800 – 1200|
|Sesame (not roasted)||700 – 900|
|Cheese||530 – 600|
|Minda le (unfried)||260|
|Sea fish||210 - 250|
|Beans||160 – 190|
|Milk, kefir, cottage cheese, whey, sour cream, yogurt||90 – 120|
|Shrimps, anchovies, oysters, crabs||) 80 – 100|
|Chicken egg (1 piece)||55|
Small amounts of calcium are found in cereals, fruits, vegetables, berries, meat and honey. The content of the element in these products varies from 5 to 50 milligrams per 100 grams.
What affects the absorption of calcium
Calcium is a hard-to-digest macronutrient because it requires the presence of the following substances in the body for absorption: magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, zinc, manganese, silicon, chromium, vitamins D, K and C. Moreover, an excessive amount of the first two compounds prevents its full assimilation.
The optimal ratio of calcium, magnesium and phosphorus in food or dietary supplements is 2: 1: 1. hydrochloric acid, including carbohydrates, leads to a decrease in the absorption of the element in the intestine. At the same time, the joint use of the compound with rhubarb, spinach, parsley, cabbage, sorrel, radish and currant potentiates the formation of oxalate kidney stones.
Remember, calcium from dairy products is well absorbed due to the optimal ratio of nutrients and the presence of lactic acid bacteria in such products. Moreover, to increase the bioavailability of the mineral, it is permissible to use healthy fats. However, it is important to bear in mind that an excess or lack of lipids in the diet prevents the full absorption of the "bone" substance, since in the first case there is a lack of bile acids for its breakdown, and in the second - fatty acids.
The optimal ratio of calcium and fat per serving is 1: 100.
Thus, calcium is an essential macronutrient for the human body, which is part of the bones, teeth, blood, cellular and tissue fluids. Its best "partners" are magnesium, phosphorus and vitamin D. In this tandem, the "bone-forming" element supports the health of the bone, cardiovascular, endocrine and nervous systems.
It is better to cover the body's daily need for calcium at the expense of natural foods: fermented milk products, poppy seeds, sesame seeds, cheeses, fish, nuts, greens. However, when consuming such food, it is important not to overdo it, since an excess of the mineral in the body leads to its settling on the walls of blood vessels and internal organs, provoking stone formation and disorders of the gastrointestinal tract and the cardiovascular system.