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Calcium – importance and requirement

Calcium - importance and requirement

We’ve all heard the old saying “Health is Wealth”. In our daily diet we take a  mix of vegetables, fruits, nuts, milk products and so on. But more often than not, we don’t consciously balance the type of food we consume and its quantity and nutritional value. Our body needs specific quantities of proteins, carbohydrates and micro nutrients i.e. vitamins and minerals, to remain healthy.

Our latest doc talkdoctor’s talk at the Samvedna Activity Centre focused on one of the most important micro nutrients the body needs – calcium.

Dr Satish Chawla, Geriatrician, started his talk with asking our members about their understanding of calcium and its importance, and if they have any questions regarding it. Here are some of the questions that came up –

  1. How much calcium intake is needed for normal body functioning?
  2. What are the natural sources of calcium?
  3. At what age one should start taking calcium supplements?

Dr Chawla gave a brief  introduction about calcium before answering the above questions. We’ve put together a short note on what he shared.

Calcium is the most plentiful mineral found in the human body. Our teeth and bones contain the most calcium, and nerve cells, body tissues, blood, and other body fluids also contain some amounts of it. The body uses 99 percent of its calcium to keep bones and teeth strong, thereby supporting skeletal structure and function. The rest of the calcium in our body plays a key role in cell signaling, blood clotting, muscle contraction and nerve function.

The daily calcium requirement of an adult increases with age. This is what the body needs –

  • 19 – 50 years: 1,000 mg per day
  • 50 – 70 years: Men – 1,000 mg per day ; Women – 1,200 mg per day
  • Over 71 years – 1,200 mg per day

We get calcium from the food we eat. We can also get calcium from vitamins and supplements. Vitamin D is needed to help the body absorb the calcium. Getting the adequate 10-20 minutes of sun exposure without wearing sunscreen is the best way to maintain normal levels of vitamin D in the body.

Some of the sources of calcium are:

  1. Dairy products: – Dairy foods (milk, cheese, and butter which is not pasteurized at high temperatures ) are naturally high in calcium & vitamin K2 .
  2. Nuts and Seeds: – Almonds and sesame seeds, as well as other nuts and seeds, contain high amounts of calcium.
  3. Calcium Supplements – While choosing a calcium supplement, look for one that also contains Vitamin D.

Typically the bones start to naturally thin after the age of 35. This is a good time to start taking supplements if we are not getting the required calcium amount through our diet. Calcium deficiency can lead to a person losing bone mass density over time, or not making enough bone, or a combination of the two. This disease is called osteoporosis and to avoid it, it is important to maintain healthy calcium levels. The doctor concluded saying that the one thing that is most important for a healthy mind, body and soul is to consume a balanced diet and adopt a healthy life style.

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