Calcium is one of the most important minerals that body needs in order to function properly and to maintain optimal health, especially when it comes to the bone. Calcium is used in so many ways throughout the body. It is necessary for contracting muscles, forming and strengthening bones and teeth, conducting nerve impulses throughout the body, blood clotting, maintaining a normal heartbeat as well as other important processes.
Calcium performs a number of basic functions in our body. About 99% of calcium involves keeping bones and teeth strong, thereby supporting skeletal structure and function. The rest of the calcium plays key roles in cell signaling, blood clotting, muscle contraction and nerve function. Cells use calcium to activate certain enzymes, transport ion across the cellular membrane and send and receive neurotransmitters during communication with other cells. Calcium is also one of the key players in maintaining a regular heartbeat.
Calcium may decrease the risk for colorectal cancer and can lower systolic blood pressure in individuals with high blood pressure. It helps to decrease the risk for osteoporosis.
During pregnancy and lactation, calcium requirements are higher. It is very important minerals for the development of the fetus. During childhood and adolescence, calcium is used to build and develop the skeleton and teeth. A calcium-rich diet is vital during these stages.
Calcium has a fundamental role in controlling membrane permeability and the cell’s response to stimulation. The cell membrane is semi-permeable due to which ionic concentration on both sides of the cell can be maintained. There are specific calcium channels, which open in response to a signaling protein.
Calcium is involved in the initiation of DNA synthesis, sorting of chromosomes, regulation of cell division and differentiation. It also plays a role in the vestibular system in the ear, which perceives balances and provides information about the position of the body.
Consequences of excessive intake of calcium:-
Adverse effects of high calcium diets may occur at intakes exceeding 2000mg/day. It may occur in people who take calcium supplements for a prolonged duration. Such persons may complain of constipation, large urine volume, nausea, calcification (deposition of calcium) on joints, muscles, liver, pancreas, heart, kidney or lungs and painful arthritis and hardened arteries.