Healthy Eating: The Surprising Benefits of Calcium

Calcium is essential for your overall health, but most people are not getting enough. Increasing calcium intake can be difficult, especially for those who do not like or do not tolerate dairy products. This natural compound is lost daily through skin, hair, nails, urine, and sweat. If the calcium lost is not replaced, your body will take it from the bones. Researchers have found that calcium plays a key role in muscle contraction, blood clotting, bone and tooth formation, and nerve impulse transmission. The body also needs calcium to produce hormones and enzymes.


What Is Calcium?

The most abundant mineral in the human body is required for nerve transmission, muscle function, hormonal secretion, vascular contraction and other critical metabolic functions. This mineral is found in a wide range of foods, from vegetables and fruits to fish and meat. Over 99 percent of calcium is stored in teeth and bones. The remaining one percent is found in muscles, blood, and interstitial fluid.

In order to absorb enough calcium, the human body needs vitamin D, which can be found in eggs, liver, fatty fish, fortified milk, butter, and sunflower seeds. For this reason most dietary supplements containing calcium are fortified with vitamin D. The best way to get calcium is from food.

Calcium Health Benefits

Adequate amounts of this mineral slow the rate of bone loss that naturally occurs with age and help build optimum bone mass during childhood. It's not only your bones that benefit from calcium. Research shows that this natural compound lowers blood pressure, supports weight loss, reduces symptoms of premenstrual syndrome, and promotes strong bones. Individuals who eat foods rich calcium face a lower risk of colon cancer.

This mineral helps in maintaining an optimum body weight in both men and women. It also protects your heart muscles, prevents kidney stones, and helps maintain a healthy pH level. For overweight or obese people, three or more servings of dairy products a day will boost the metabolism and accelerate weight loss. Studies suggest that regular consumption of foods rich in calcium leads to a decreased risk of insulin resistance and diabetes.

Sources of Calcium

Calcium is widely available in green leafy vegetables, dairy products, beans, greens broccoli, orange juice, kale, and Swiss chard. It can also be found in some types of fish, including sardines and salmon. Cheese, milk, and yogurt are rich in calcium. For children, low fat or fat free ice cream are calcium rich treats. If this mineral can not be obtained through diet, calcium supplements are a viable option.

Healthy eating is important for the well-being of your mind and body. Eating foods rich in calcium, iron, magnesium, fatty acids and other essential nutrients is the key to proper health.

- By Dominic H Milner


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