Every Nutrient

    Benefits of Calcium

    Eating foods that are high in calcium can help to prevent conditions such as rickets, poor blood clotting, and osteoporosis. Foods that are high in calcium include: dairy products, tofu, chinese cabbage, spinach, kale, red beans, pinto beans, and broccoli.

    What is Calcium?

    Calcium, the most abundant mineral in the body, is an important component of a healthy diet.

    Function of Calcium:

    Calcium is essential for the normal growth and maintenance of bones and teeth. It also helps the heart, nerves, muscles, and other body systems to work properly. Calcium requirements must be met throughout life. Requirements are greatest during periods of growth such as during pregnancy, breastfeeding, and childhood. In order for calcium to function correctly, it must be accompanied by several other nutrients including magnesium, phosphorous, and vitamins A, C, D, and K.

    Deficiency of Calcium:

    Several conditions can lead to calcium deficiency including prolonged bed rest (depletes calcium from bones), malnutrition, Crohn’s disease, celiac disease, surgical intestinal resection, and other diseases that cause malabsorption problems. The elderly are also less able to absorb calcium.

    Calcium deficiency over a long period of time can contribute to the development of osteoporosis, which makes bones more susceptible to fracture. Symptoms of calcium deficiency include poor tooth and bone development; dry skin and nails; muscle spasms or cramping; numbness, tingling, or burning sensation around the mouth and fingers; hair loss (alopecia); nausea and vomiting; yeast infections; headaches; anxiety; and convulsions/seizures.

    Note: A variety of medical conditions can lead to the symptoms mentioned above. Therefore, it is important to have a physician evaluate them so that appropriate medical care can be given.

    Toxicity (Calcium Overdose):

    Calcium supplements may contain lead. Lead is a toxic metal (especially to children and those with kidney disease) that can harm the brain and kidneys, cause anemia, and raise blood pressure. Calcium supplements which are derived from oyster shells, dolomite, and bone meal are more likely to contain lead. To avoid lead poisoning from calcium supplements, look for labels which indicate that the supplements have been tested for lead content.

    Taking high doses of calcium supplements results in abnormally elevated blood calcium (hypercalcemia). There may be no symptoms associated with mild hypercalcemia or there may be symptoms including loss of appetite, nausea, vomiting, constipation, abdominal pain, dry mouth, thirst, and frequent urination. Results of more severe hypercalcemia include confusion, delirium, coma, and death if not treated.

    Caution: Eating natural foods that are high in calcium is the safest and healthiest way to get an adequate supply of the nutrient. Due to risk of toxicity, individuals should always consult with a knowledgeable healthcare provider before starting doses of supplements. Before giving supplements to children, it is recommended that you first consult with their pediatrician. Also, some supplements may interfere with medications. If you are taking medication, it is recommended that you consult with your physician before taking any supplements. All supplements should be kept in childproof bottles and out of children’s reach.

    Calcium Food Chart (List of Foods High in Calcium):

    Milk 8 ounces – (300 mg)
    Yogurt 8 ounces – (300 mg)
    Cheddar cheese 1.5 ounces – (303 mg)
    Tofu, calcium set, 1/2 cup – (258 mg)
    Chinese cabbage, cooked, 1/2 cup – (239 mg)
    Rhubarb, cooked, 1/2 cup – (174 mg)
    Spinach, cooked, 1/2 cup – (115 mg)
    White beans, cooked, 1/2 cup – (113 mg)
    Bok choy, cooked, 1/2 cup – (79 mg)
    Kale, cooked, 1/2 cup – (61 mg)
    Pinto beans, cooked, 1/2 cup – (45 mg)
    Red beans, cooked, 1/2 cup – (41 mg)
    Broccoli, cooked, 1/2 cup – (35 mg)

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