Calcium is the main structural component of bones ad teeth but did you know that it also controls the contraction of your muscles and transmission of your nerve impulses? Yes, 99 percent of our calcium, together with phosphorus, forms the matrix of bones and teeth, the structural function of calcium. The remaining one percent is in the bloodstream, regulating the contraction and relaxation of muscles, especially the heart muscle, blood clotting, nerve impulse transmission, production of hormone and maintenance of acid-base balance.
The amount in the bloodstream may be too small as compared to the amount found in the bones but reducing it causes the calcium in your bones to be used up, putting individuals at greater risk of fracture or osteoporosis in later life.
Calcium is needed in the production and activation of enzymes like the enzyme to contract and relax muscles, secretion of hormones such as the growth hormone, conduction of synapses in nerves, activation of clotting factor in the blood, control of cell membrane permeability and electrolyte balance.
Calcium normalizes blood pressure among salt-sensitive patients and relieves muscles muscle cramps especially among pregnant women.In addition, a study done by Prompt and Quinton of the Departments of Physiology and Medicine of the University of California Medical School found that calcium is an essential requirement for stimulating sweat and that may be a factor in regulating the concentration of sweat.
Our body has to maintain the normal level of calcium in the blood and soft tissues to keep up with all of its regulating functions even at the expense of our bones. This mechanism makes it difficult to determine calcium deficiency unlike other nutrients where deficiency can be determined through blood or urinary tests and there is no specific disease characterizing it.
Including calcium-rich foods in your daily diet would ensure that the calcium stored in your bones will not be used up to help regulate a lot of body processes. Message No. 5 of the 2012 Nutritional Guidelines for Filipinos developed by the Technical Working Group led by the Food and Nutrition Research Institute, Department of Science and Technology (FNRI-DOST) recommends to consume milk, milk products and other calcium-rich foods everyday for healthy bones and teeth.
Examples of alternative sources of calcium are freshwater shrimp, anchovy, shore crab, mungbean, jute leaves, horseradish leaves, sardines, and dried fish. So to keep up with your body processes and not compromise your bones, eat and drink calcium-rich foods everyday!
– Ms. Charina A. Javier, FNRI-DOST