Calcium is one of the building blocks of life. Without calcium, the body cannot function properly. It is absolutely essential that the human body receive a steady, daily stream of calcium, or suffer dire consequences.
What is Calcium?
Calcium is a mineral common just about everywhere on the planet. Outside the body it normally exists as a soft grey metal, and can be found in great abundance in the Earth’s crust. Calcium is also used in many man-made products, such as insecticides, paints, chalk and disinfectants.
Inside the body calcium serves a similar function to its role as a part of the Earth’s core, as bones and teeth are composed of calcium. It is, by far, the most abundant metal in the human body, and without calcium the human race would have no supporting skeletal structure.
Why Calcium is Important
Calcium’s primary role in the body is the development and maintenance of bones. Without sufficient and regular infusions of calcium, bones will begin to break down. For this reason it’s especially important for children and older people to ingest calcium regularly, though pre-emptive measures by teens and adults are also important to prevent calcium breakdown.
Beyond the bones, calcium also aids the operation of several major systems, such as the heart, muscles and nerves. Calcium ions are responsible for signalling major cellular processes, so without sufficient amounts of calcium, these organs may malfunction.
What Happens Without Calcium?
The most common disease associated with calcium deficiency is osteoporosis. It is the thinning of bone tissue and density throughout the body, either from a lack of calcium or the body’s inability to properly absorb calcium into the bones. This can lead to a number of debilitating effects, including:
– All-around fragility – fractures are common, regardless of the level of physical activity
– A bent spine, resulting in poor posture
– A gradual loss of height
– Bodily pain and discomfort, particularly in the neck and spine
Because calcium is necessary for other processes, the body will leech calcium from the bones to maintain organ function. This process typically results in painful bone spurs that inhibit motion, often in some of the weaker parts of the body. A lack of calcium can also lead to hypertension and cardiac arrhythmias.
Combating Calcium Deficiency
The easiest way to get calcium is to eat calcium-rich foods. Dairy products are high in calcium, and are most valuable during the skeletal development of an infant. Milk and cheese are valuable components of most diets. Other calcium-rich foods include:
– Leafy vegetables
Depending on the severity of calcium loss, it may also be necessary for the sufferer to ingest calcium tablets to supplement their daily intake.
It’s also important to balance these foods with a steady intake of vitamin D, which promotes effective calcium absorption. Without sufficient amounts of vitamin D, the body will waste much of the ingested calcium. Vitamin D can be found in dairy products and many kinds of fish, though simple sunlight also transmits the vitamin into the body.
Calcium deficiency is no laughing matter. Though the weakening of bones can take years to reach critical mass, the road is long and painful, and will only get worse as the body deteriorates. Anyone suffering from a lack of calcium must take dietary steps to cope with the issue immediately, or risk being perpetually bedridden later in life.