Our present life style, which includes fast foods, aerated drinks,
stress and of course dieting especially to loose weight. With all
these, are you getting enough minerals that your body needs?
The body contains about 24 minerals and all must be provided by the diet. Some of these form part of body structural components and some others act as catalytic agents in many body reactions.
On an average man excretes daily 20 - 30 gm of mineral salts consisting of sodium, potassium, magnesium, calcium, sulphate and phosphates and this must be made up by an adequate intake of these mineral salts in our food. In the case of growing infants and children intake of additional amounts of several minerals are essential to ensure adequate growth of tissues.
Minerals play an important role in maintaining the immune system of our body. Deficiency of minerals reduces the responsiveness of our immune system making us more prone to illness and infections. The requirements for micronutrients also increased during the recovery phase of an illness. Pollution in air water and food put a stress on all of us. Minerals are required to support the enzyme systems, which aid in the discharge of these unwanted toxins.
Most of the minerals we need are found in our diet. Plant foods including fruits and vegetables contain liberal amounts of minerals.
24 minerals are present in the body
Require for integrity of structural components of the body
Act as catalytic agents
Play an important role in maintaining the immune system of our body
Calcium - Calcium is an essential element required for several
life processes. Among the minerals calcium occurs in the highest
amount in the body. About 99% of the calcium are present in the
skeleton and the remaining 1-% in soft tissues and as well as in the
blood where it aids clotting. The body of the infant at birth contains
about 27.5gms of calcium while the adult body contains about 1000 to
1200 gms. All this calcium is deposited in the bone during the growth
of the body. It is also required for normal contraction of muscle to
make limbs move, contraction of heart for its normal function, nervous
activity and blood clotting.
A diet with inadequate calcium will decrease the storage of calcium
bones, which can become weak and will fracture easily. Weakness of
bones is called osteoporosis. In young children due to the deficiency
of calcium bones start bending and there is enlargement of the ankles
and wrists with the typical symptoms of bow legs, knock knees and
pigeon chests. This deficiency is known as rickets in
Oesteomalacia in adults characterised by aching bones,
muscle spasms and increased or abnormal curvature of the spine. The
calcium stored in your bones must last you your whole life, so if you
have weak bones when you are a young adult it will be difficult to
increase their strength as you get older. The peak time for storage is
during the teenage years. It is during this time that the bones reach
their adult length and strength. It is also during this time that
estrogen in young women and testosterone in young men help them
develop their bones and make them strong. If there is not enough
calcium in their diets, or if there is not enough hormone production,
the amount of calcium that is made into bone will be reduced. Bones
have as much as 32 percentage of calcium. Diets low in calcium may
also contribute to hypertension.
Calcium is required: -
For the formation of bones and teeth.
It is essential for the clotting of blood.
It regulates the permeability of capillary walls.
It is essential for the contraction of the heart and muscle.
It regulates the excitability of nerve fibers and nerve centers.
Children need relatively more calcium than adults to meet the
requirements of growing bones. Calcium requirements are also increased
during pregnancy to meet the needs of growing fetus and during
lactation to compensate for calcium secreted in breast milk. Healthy
breasts fed baby of 3 months require a large amount of calcium, most
of which has been drawn from mother's milk and rest is been utilised
from the calcium store. Deficiency of calcium in newborn period may
leads to seizure. If the mother's diet during this period is deficient
in calcium, mother's bones will be depleted and her bones become prone
to fractures. Since there is considerable drain of calcium during
pregnancy and lactation adequate supply of the mineral is essential
during these conditions is required. A generous intake of milk and
green leafy vegetables is therefore recommended during these
periods. Calcium is a vital nutrient linked to everything from helping
to prevent osteoporosis to helping ease the symptoms of pre menstrual
syndrome in female.
Sources of Calcium
Calcium is present in both animal and plant foods .The richest source
of calcium among animal foods is milk and milk products, fish and
among the vegetable sources is green leafy vegetables. Amaranth,
fenugreek and drumstick leaves are particularly rich in calcium and
among root vegetables tapioca is a good source. Most cereals and
millets contain some amount of this element and the millet ragi is a
rich source of calcium. Rice is a poor source of calcium and therefore
insufficiency of calcium is one of the main defects of diets largely
based on rice.
Dietary Sources of Calcium
Calcium content mg/100 gms
Dried rape leaves
Lotus stem dry
300 - 4000
The calcium requirement of man is not known with certainty. More over
man appears to adapt himself to low intakes of calcium with out any
apparent deleterious effects. The suggested level of intake for an
adult man and growing children is between 0.4 and 0.6 gm / day. In the
case of pregnant and lactating mother the nutrition expert group of
the Indian council of medical research has suggested a daily allowance
of 1.0 gm.
Recommended Calcium Allowance for Indians*
Calcium (mg / day)
Lactation 0 - 12 months
Infants 0 - 12 months
Children 1 -9 years
10 - 15 years
16 - 18 years
* Source: ICMR 1981
Absorption of Calcium
Vitamin D, protein, and ascorbic acid are necessary for the proper
absorption of calcium. Lysine, lactose and citric acid are also known
to promote calcium absorption. Higher levels of proteins in the diet
help to increase the absorption of calcium. Calcium is well absorbed
at the normal pH of the intestines. If the contents become alkaline,
calcium absorption is lowered due to the formation of insoluble
tricalcium phosphate. Presence of excess fibre in the diet interferes
with the absorption of calcium.