Natural Health Tips

Nutrition Basics: Know Your Minerals: Calcium

Calcium is the most abundant mineral found in the body; 4-5% of your body weight is made up of minerals and roughly 50% of this weight is calcium. Calcium is stored in the cells of the bones and teeth where it helps to keep them strong, and also helps in biochemical functions such as blood clotting, muscle contraction, heart and blood pressure control. Calcium in the body is also vital for healthy skin, hair and nails. So all round its a pretty important mineral.

A deficiency of calcium can cause osteoporosis and low bone density. A regular intake of calcium through food intake or supplementation (in amino acid chelated form) can prevent and reduce the risk of developing osteoporosis and a new study has found that it can also promote colon health as well.

When taking mineral supplements it must be remembered that no mineral is utilized by the body on its own; for example phosphorus must be present with calcium for the calcium to be beneficial for bones. All minerals, vitamins etc interact with each other and a single mineral deficiency is usually not the sole reason for a specific ailment. So if you do supplement with a particular vitamin or mineral, this will only be beneficial if other minerals are also present in the body, so eat a varied diet rich in good, wholesome fresh food.

So what foods are calcium rich?

We have all heard that milk is a major source of calcium, however milk is not easily digestible by the human body and the effects of pasteurization (and homogenization) on milk significantly effects calcium absorption. Contrary to popular opinion, milk is not the best source of calcium.

But don't worry, calcium can be found in numerous other foods natural to man's diet. It is found in most fruits and vegetables, especially in green vegetables such as broccoli and apricots, dates, figs, papayas. Other good sources of calcium are seeds and nuts.