Calcium is the mineral most likely to be deficient in the average diet. It is the chief supportive element in bones and teeth. Calcium salts make up about 70 percent of bone weight and give your bones its strength and rigidity.
About 99 percent of the calcium in the human body is held in the bones and teeth. The remaining one percent of calcium circulates in the bloodstream, where it performs a variety of important functions:
- It helps to contract muscles and helps regulate the contractions of the heart.
- It plays a role in the transmission of nerve impulses and in blood clotting.
- It is involved in the stimulation of contractions of the uterus during childbirth and in milk production.
- It also regulates the secretion of various hormones and aids in the functioning of various enzymes within the body.
- These regulatory mechanisms help prevent a deficiency in calcium from developing in the bloodstream.
This mineral is a major contributing factor to the prevention of bone density loss and osteoporosis (disease characterized by low bone mass and deterioration of bone tissue).
Calcium deficiency can lead to the following problems:
aching joints, brittle nails, eczema, elevated blood cholesterol, heart palpitations, hypertension, insomnia, muscle cramps, nervousness, numbness in the arms and/or legs, a pasty complexion, rheumatoid arthritis, rickets, tooth decay and also associated with cognitive impairment, depression and hyperactivity.
Now I’m sure your asking yourself, where do I get calcium? Luckily calcium is found in an abundance of different foods. Here are some of the very best sources of this essential mineral: milk, yogurt, cheese, tofu, soybeans, nuts (almonds highest), seeds (salba/chia highest), sardines and salmon with the bones, fortified rice or soy beverage, turnip greens, okra, bok choy, kale, broccoli, blackstrap molasses and figs.
Crystal Mortley, R.N.C.P, is a registered nutritionist with 13 years of experience in the health food industry. Her goal is to cut through the myths and confusion surrounding nutrition by providing people with the proper tools to make healthier decisions. She has worked with numerous clients helping to educate them on the importance of proper eating habits and food choices.