In the context of nutrition, a mineral is a chemical element required as an essential nutrient by organisms to perform functions necessary for life. Most of the minerals in a human diet come from eating plants and animals or from drinking water. As a group, minerals are one of the four groups of essential nutrients, the others of which are vitamins, essential fatty acids, and essential amino acids. The five major minerals in the human body are calcium, phosphorus, potassium, sodium, and magnesium.
Calcium makes up approximately 2 percent of your total body weight and contributes to many basic body functions, including disease prevention and absorption of other nutrients. Consuming enough calcium — between 1,000 and 1,200 milligrams per day for healthy men and women — is a must for optimal nutrition and health. Calcium is key for the health of your bones and teeth, but it also affects your muscles, hormones, nerve function, and ability to form blood clots.
Calcium performs a number of basic functions in your body. Your body uses 99 percent of its calcium to keep your bones and teeth strong, thereby supporting skeletal structure and function.
Diseases due to Calcium deficiency
Low blood calcium levels and the lack of calcium may lead to the following low calcium symptoms:
- Heart failure
- Chest pains
- Numbness and tingling sensations around the mouth or in the fingers and toes
- Muscle cramps, particularly in the back and legs; may progress to muscle spasm ( tetany)
- Difficulty swallowing
- Voice changes due to spasm of the larynx
- Irritability, impaired intellectual capacity, depression, anxiety, and personality changes
- Coarse hair
- Brittle nails
- Dry skin
- Chronic itching
- Tooth decay
- Numbness or tingling in the extremities
- Muscle weakness
- Osteoporosis symptoms (a backache; a gradual loss of height and an accompanying stooped posture; fractures of the spine, wrist, or hip)
What happens if you consume too much Calcium?
Consuming too much calcium, especially in the form of calcium supplements, can lead to constipation and kidney stones. The Institute of Medicine recommends healthy men and women limit their daily calcium consumption to 2,000 to 2,500 milligrams. Taking too much calcium may also lead to side effects such as dry mouth, a continuing headache, increased thirst, irritability, loss of appetite, depression, a metallic taste in the mouth, and fatigue.
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