Calcium is an important element in the body. It is usually found in some foods and are often added to others in the form of supplements and additives to food and medicines. Calcium has several important effects. It is a mineral required for the contraction and dilatation of blood vessels as well as for good functioning of muscles. It is also needed for the smooth transmission of nerve impulses, signalling among cells, and the secretion of hormones. The calcium in the blood is regulated by the body in such a way that it does not change during intake of food. The body is able to use calcium in such a way that when calcium in the blood is low, it is able to pull out some calcium from the bones to maintain constant concentrations of calcium in the blood, muscles and in the fluid inside cells.
Majority of the calcium in the body is stored in the bones and teeth while only 1% is involved with metabolism of the body. Calcium gives support to the structure of the bones and teeth. Bone undergoes continuous remodelling, resorption and deposition of calcium. Initially, the body sees to it that there is balance between bone resorption and bone deposition; however as we age, the process is much slower. As we age, bone resorption happens more than bone formation, while in children, bone formation is dominant. In adulthood, these processes are equal in occurrence. This is why in elderly people, especially in post menopausal women, there is bone breakdown and less bone formation, a process which results to bone loss and osteoporosis.
Aside from calcium supplements, other sources of calcium are milk, yogurt and cheese. However, some people may be lactose intolerant and cannot withstand taking dairy products. Lactose intolerance is the inability of the body to digest lactose, a type of sugar found in milk and dairy products. This means that the body lacks the enzyme lactase, which is produced by the cells that line the small intestine. Lactase is tasked with the breakdown of lactose in milk and dairy products. The exact cause of lactose intolerance is unknown, yet scientists say that this may be due to genetics. There are two types of lactase deficiency: primary and secondary. Primary lactase deficiency begins at around two years of age, the time when the body begins to produce less lactase. These children often do not manifest symptoms of lactase deficiency until they have reached adolescence or late adulthood. Secondary lactase deficiency, on the other hand, is caused by injuries to the small intestine that is due to severe diarrhea, celiac disease, Crohn’s disease, or chemotherapy. People who are at risk for lactose intolerance are those who are African-Americans, Hispanic Americans, American Indians, and Asian Americans. Other high risk people include infants who were born prematurely. The symptoms of lactose intolerance start after milk and dairy products are consumed. These symptoms include abdominal pain, abdominal bloating, gas, diarrhea and nausea.
If you are lactose intolerant, you shouldn't worry about not meeting your recommended calcium intake levels. Here are some replacements for milk that can contain calcium.
Of course, nothing beats calcium supplements. Forms of calcium supplements that you can safely take include calcium carbonate and calcium lactate. Calcium carbonate is readily available and is cheaper, while calcium citrate is well-absorbed and can be taken with or without food. Calcium citrate is also best for people who have achlorhydria, inflammatory bowel disease, or absorption disorders.
You can also obtain calcium from over-the-counter drugs such as antacids. These medicines are available as chewable tablets or even liquids. This would be great to use if you have peptic ulcer disease or heartburn.
This soy product is rich in calcium and has calcium amounts like that one cup of yogurt.
Salmon and sardines
Canned salmon contains small edible bones that contain high calcium levels. This food can also give you sufficient amounts of omega-3 fatty acids and protein. Sardines also contain small bones that contain high amounts of calcium.
Chinese cabbage is a green leafy vegetable that contains high amounts of calcium. Kale and white beans also contain the same stuff.
Feel free to read our other articles on this site.