Calcium in the human body acts as a mineral electrolyte responsible for the transfer of electrical charges that are dissolved in liquids, including blood. The mineral has a high chemical activity. This element is not found in its pure form, but it is found in large quantities as a compound with other substances in the earth’s crust, in living organisms.
It is the most abundant mineral in the human body, its content is approximately 1-1.2 kg. 99% of the mineral is found in bones and teeth, the rest is involved in other processes in the body, for example, in the process of muscle contraction, the release of hormones.
The role and importance of calcium for the human body
The main function of calcium in the human body is to maintain bone rigidity, that is, a support function. However, this is not the only benefit of the mineral in the body, it is also directly involved:
- in muscle contraction;
- in the excitability of nerve tissues;
- promotes the removal of harmful substances from the body;
- takes part in the activation of the pituitary gland;
- prevents the accumulation of harmful cholesterol;
- in blood clotting;
- helps the proper functioning of the gonads and adrenal glands;
- affects membrane permeability;
- participates in the work of the thyroid and pancreas.
Calcium plays an important role in the work of the heart muscle. It also helps prevent depression and relieves stress symptoms.
Calcium deficiency. Why does it arise and how it manifests itself
The mineral is strongly washed out from the body due to the consumption of coffee. High intake of fats and oxalic acid, cereals in which phytic acid is present, also negatively affect the amount of calcium in the body.
In addition, some diseases and conditions impair the absorption of calcium and contribute to its additional excretion. At risk are:
- Women during menopause and during PMS. In this state, the function of sex hormones decreases, the amount of progesterone in the body increases, which contributes to the elimination of the mineral from the body.
- Elderly age. Until about 25 years of age, the mineral accumulates in the body, then it is in a consistently equal volume and already in old age begins to gradually be excreted at a rapid pace.
- Bodybuilders are prone to severe calcium loss. The rapid growth of muscle mass requires additional calcium consumption.
Another factor is the presence of hormone-dependent diseases. Hormonal drugs, whether natural or synthetic, lower calcium levels in the body.
Calcium deficiency symptoms
The very first signs of a mineral deficiency in the body include brittle nails, dental caries and poor hair condition. Other signs include:
- severe pregnancy;
- hypertensive crisis;
- muscle cramps;
- trouble concentrating;
- decreased memory.
Initially, the body tries to compensate for the deficit at the expense of its own reserves. But over time, they dry up, and the development of osteoporosis begins, problems with blood clotting appear.
What does excess calcium lead to?
An increased amount of calcium in the body is extremely rare. This is possible if a person is very addicted to food supplements with this mineral. This can lead to the following problems:
- muscle weakness;
- decrease in body weight;
- pain in bones and joints;
Some people vomit and have no appetite. Some people suffer from the fact that they cannot concentrate.
Causes of excess calcium
In addition to the enthusiasm for calcium-containing drugs, other reasons can also lead to an excess of the mineral:
- Hyperparathyroidism. With this disease, parathyroid hormone becomes too much, and it is responsible for the amount of calcium in the blood.
- Passion for vitamin D, which enhances the absorption of calcium. However, in order to achieve an excess of the mineral, you will have to drink vitamin D for several months in a row in doses that exceed the body’s need at least 2 times.
- Diseases of the bones. This refers to pathologies associated with the destruction of bone mass, for example, Paget’s disease.
- A sedentary lifestyle, or rather, this applies to persons bedridden.
Against the background of oncological diseases, problems often arise with the maintenance of calcium in the norm. This is especially true for those people who have cancer of the ovaries, kidneys or lungs.
Symptoms of excess and lack of calcium, consequences
Symptoms of excess calcium in the body are rare. The appearance of constipation, vomiting and aching abdominal pain, loss of appetite is possible. Dehydration of the body may occur, accompanied by constant thirst. However, the consequences of long-term deficits can be serious problems.
With a lack of calcium, first of all, problems with the brain can begin. The person begins to disorientate, hallucinations may begin, which will end in a coma. Some people develop muscle and heart problems. Often, a lack of the mineral has a detrimental effect on the functioning of the kidneys. As a rule, the deficiency of a substance can be determined only by blood tests.
Interesting data was obtained in the course of many years of research. It turned out that when taking 1400 mg of the mineral per day, the mortality rate is greatly increased. And if they consumed less than 600 mg per day, then mortality also increased several times. Scientists concluded that both a deficiency and an excess of calcium lead to dysregulation of metabolism in the body and provoke an increase in mortality.
Calcium content in foods
Do not think that cottage cheese is the real leader in calcium content. In fact, there are many more foods that can help make up for the mineral deficiency:
- sesame halva;
- feta cheese;
- processed cheeses;
- gouda and cheddar cheese;
- sunflower seeds;
- rose hip;
- Red beans;
- cow and sheep milk;
And this is an incomplete list. That is, we can conclude that a balanced diet will prevent the appearance of calcium deficiency in the body.
The absorption of the mineral from food is quite low, from 25 to 40%. After heat treatment, calcium generally transforms into an inorganic form, as a result of which another 50% is lost.
Who is contraindicated in calcium intake?
Additional calcium supplementation is not recommended in the presence of kidney stones, if hypercalcemia or hypercalciuria is diagnosed. In the first case, the mineral is very much in the blood, in the second – in the urine.
You cannot take calcium supplements and cardiac glycosides at the same time, as there is a huge risk of arrhythmia. Hypercoagulability and atherosclerosis are also absolute contraindications to supplemental calcium intake.
Pros and cons of using calcium
Scientists from America managed to establish that with the uncontrolled use of calcium supplements, if a person does not have any problems with this substance, the risk of developing heart disease increases significantly.
On the other hand, the additional introduction of calcium helps to maintain the permeability of membranes at the proper level in case of allergies, it inhibits the manifestation of symptoms.
In adolescence, the mineral helps to get rid of acne and eliminate inflammation. It is often used to improve blood clotting in severe bleeding. Calcium reduces pain from insect bites.
Simply put, if the additional administration of the mineral is carried out under the supervision of a physician, then there will be no side effects from taking calcium.
Calcium May Help Fight Overweight
Indeed, scientific studies have been conducted regarding the benefits of calcium during weight loss. It was possible to establish that with a daily intake of 600 mg of the mineral and 125 mg of vitamin D, which stimulates the absorption of calcium into the body, people lose weight faster. However, it is not necessary to use nutritional supplements, you can build a diet based on foods high in calcium.
Calcium is an extremely important mineral for the human body. However, excessive enthusiasm for this substance, like other vitamin and mineral supplements, entails many unpleasant and even dangerous consequences. Deficiency and excess of a mineral in the body can be detected through laboratory tests. Therefore, you should not independently prescribe calcium-containing drugs for yourself, but use them exclusively after consulting a doctor.