Calcium is an important mineral and98-99% of calcium can be located in our skeletal system and in our teeth. About 1% can be found in our body fluids such as blood. Calcium is essential for muscle function and has a role to play in normal heart beat, clotting of blood, activation of certain enzymes and regulation of hormones. Insulin secretion is also affected by this essential mineral.
Calcium is important for our skeletal system as it is a living tissue. Calcium is continually being depleted and renewed by what we call osteoblast and osteoclast activity. This is an activity that continues throughout our life, sometimes referred to as remodelling.
Through various stages of our life calcium becomes even more important.
In Young Children
The entire skeleton of a young child is replaced over a 2 year period. The demand at this stage is great to ensure constant growth and bone maintenance.
Pregnancy & Lactation
During pregnancy and lactation women need to ensure they have enough calcium to meet both their and their baby’s needs.
Teenagers have specific needs to cope with sudden growth spurts. Even when growth stops, girls in particular continue to need calcium for their pelvic bones.
Excessive dieting and exercising can quickly deplete calcium and may stop menstruating leading to a decrease in hormone levels.
From Childhood to Mid 20′s
From childhood to mid to late 20′s, we see a continuous increase in bone density.
We reach what we call peak bone mass, however as we continue to age we have a loss of calcium from the skeleton, with woman losing nearly twice that of males.
Most would be familiar with osteoporosis which can occur in later life if we don’t take the steps to have a healthy calcium enriched diet when we are younger.
So to ensure we have healthy skeletal systems make sure you consume a daily intake of between 800-1000mg of calcium from healthy food sources such as dairy, canned fish (eat the bones) grain and vegetables.
Lifting weights also ensures the uptake of calcium and good bone density.