Calcium is the most abundant mineral within the body, makes up about 1.5 to 2% of body weight. Calcium serves lots of functions but it is mainly known for its role in building bones and teeth as it is mostly stored in them with trace amounts in the blood that are regulated through the action of some hormones. although Calcium is very essential for our health, our bodies can’t produce it normally and we have to depend on food and supplements to get our daily requirements of it, that is why it is vital to grasp which types of food that contain the highest content of Calcium and to make sure to incorporate them more into our diet.
Dietary Requirements of Calcium
- During the first 3 years of life 700 mg per day
- 4-8 year old children need 1000 mg per day
- 9-18 year old children need 1200 mg per day
- 18-50 year adults need 1000 mg per day
- <50 year adults need 1200 mg per day
- Pregnant and lactating females need 1000:1300 mg per day
- With the upper limit being 1500:2000 mg per day to avoid hypercalcemia
Why Do We Need Calcium?
Calcium serves lots of functions in all body systems:
1) The Musculoskeletal System
• Build bones and teeth:
this is the main function that Calcium serves in our bodies, as our bones and teeth are made up of a framework of collagen that becomes harder through the deposition of hydroxyapatite which is the main form that Calcium with over 99% of it being present in bones by combining with phosphorus and other ions like magnesium and fluoride to build bone structure and give it strength and density.
• Elicit muscle contraction:
inside skeletal muscle fibers, there are voltage-gated Calcium channels that get activated through the propagation of the action potential in the neuromuscular junction and these channels release Calcium that activates actin and myosin filaments that glide over each other and trigger muscle contraction, and when the propagation ends this Calcium is stored again to allow for muscle relaxation.