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Kinif & fork : Calcium and your health.

By Ruba Shawwa Minerals help the body perform numerous functions, such as building strong bones, transmitting nerve impulses, making hormones and maintaining a regular heartbeat. There are two types of minerals: Macrominerals that your body needs in large amounts such as calcium, sodium and potassium, and micro (or trace) minerals that are only needed in small amounts including iron, zinc and selenium.In this article, I'm going to talk about calcium as one of the most important minerals for our health and wellbeing. Calcium plays a vital role in our bodies, performing many metabolic functions, including bone growth and maintenance, muscle and nerve control, blood clotting as well as blood pressure regulation. And contrary to the common belief, our bodies need calcium in all stages of life and not only during the development stages. It is true that the bone mass is built until approximately the age of 29 and that after that age, calcium intake cannot help you build more bones, but it can help you prevent bone loss later during life, in addition to its other important previously mentioned functions. This is why it is crucial to include a sufficient calcium intake in your daily regime, regardless of your age. It is the amount of calcium needed that differs according to age. For example, during the first 6 months of age, 210 mgs of calcium are considered adequate, while those requirements increase from the 6th month till one year to around 270 mg. From 1 to 3 years, it is recommended to get around 500 mgs of calcium a day, while from 4 to 8 years, 800 mgs are considered sufficient. The largest amount of calcium is needed during adolescence, pregnancy and lactating years when calcium requirements become as high as 1,200 mgs a day. And to have a better understanding of how to estimate your intake, I would like to clarify some simple measurements of calcium content. One 250 ml-cup of milk for example contains around 300 mg of calcium, while _ cup of tofu contains approximately 250 mgs of calcium. Three ounces of canned salmon or sardines with bones contain 200-250 mgs of calcium. Other important calcium sources include cheeses where calcium content differs from one type to another, yoghurt, calcium- fortified juices and soy drinks as well as green leafy vegetables such as spinach, broccoli and Chinese cabbage. However, if your dietary sources of calcium are insufficient, a supplement might be needed to ensure adequate intake. In this case, make sure that you obtain adequate elemental calcium, which is the amount of calcium available for absorption. Anyway, you can always consult with your doctor to determine the suitable supplement for you. And as I always say, it is not possible to talk about calcium without highlighting the role of vitamin D. The body needs vitamin D to absorb calcium. Without enough vitamin D, we cannot form enough of the hormone calcitriol. This in turn leads to insufficient calcium absorption from the diet. In this situation, the body must take calcium from its stores in the skeleton, which weakens existing bone and prevents the formation of strong, new bone, thus increasing the chance of osteoporosis.You can get vitamin D from diet where some foods are considered rich vitamin D- sources including egg yolks, saltwater fish, liver and internal organs as well as vitamin D- fortified milk. Another very important way of getting vitamin D is through exposure to sunlight, where vitamin D is formed naturally in the skin after exposure to sunlight for as little as 15 minutes, 2-3 times per week. Experts recommend a daily intake of between 400-800 International Units (IU) of vitamin D per day, which you can also get through supplements if needed. So, always try your best to get a balanced diet that contains sufficient amounts of calcium and vitamin D, which--combined with an active, healthy lifestyle--will guarantee a longer and better life for you. A*Kinif & fork : Calcium and your health

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Publication:The Star (Amman, Jordan)
Date:Jan 29, 2007
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