|The Role of Calcium in Human Health|
Calcium is an essential nutrient that is necessary for many functions in human health. Calcium is the most abundant mineral in the body with 99% found in teeth and bone.
The role of calcium in human health:
- Calcium as a key nutrient: Calcium is the most abundant stored nutrient in the human body. More than 99% (1.2-1.4 kg) is stored in the bones and teeth.
- Calcium distribution in the body: Calcium is distributed among various tissue compartments in the human body. The kidney is the primary mechanism for rapid release or absorption of calcium through the filtration and urine excretion functions.
The function of calcium:
Calcium is used throughout the body in small amounts. Research has confirmed that calcium is involved in vascular contraction, vasodilation, muscle functions, nerve transmission, intracellular signalling, and hormonal secretion.
Calcium helps your body with:
- Building strong bones and teeth
- Clotting blood
- Sending and receiving nerve signals
- Squeezing and relaxing muscles
- Releasing hormones and other chemicals
- Keeping a normal heartbeat
Metabolic aspects of calcium absorption:
Calcium absorption occurs throughout the gastrointestinal tract but varies by region. The primary mechanism is passive absorption as the food moves slowly through this area of the gastrointestinal tract.
It is important to note that calcium is not absorbed in the stomach.
There are three major population groups that are at highest risk for dietary calcium deficiency. These include women, individuals with a milk allergy or lactose intolerance, and at-risk groups for dietary deficiency intake.
- Calcium metabolism involves other nutrients including protein, vitamin D, and phosphorus.
- Bone formation and maintenance is a lifelong process.
- Early attention to strong bones in childhood and adulthood will provide more stable bone mass during the ageing years.
- The primary emphasis on calcium consumption during its initial scientific discovery was focused on early human life primarily during growth periods of infancy and childhood.
- The interest in calcium requirements during the last decade has been expanded to apply to the entire life cycle from birth through elder years.
- Much commercial food and nutritional supplement products contain calcium fortification today in response to a wider audience.