If, like most people, you were told to consume plenty of dairy products as a child to grow strong and big bones, it’s likely that you suspect the importance of calcium in the human body. Calcium, the chemical element with symbol Ca, is an alkaline earth metal. It’s not only the fifth most abundant element in Earth’s crust, but it is also the fifth most abundant element in the human body. On the planet, it’s the third most important metal, just after iron and aluminium. But in the body, Ca is the metal present in the largest quantities, which gives it its particular importance in the maintenance of your health. Admittedly, the relationship between Calcium and health is a little more complex than drinking a large glass of milk. Unfortunately, the marketing industry might lead you to believe otherwise. Countless pots of yoghurt and children’s chocolate bars refer to their calcium content as the best way to keep your bones healthy and solid, so that you might be pushed to think that calcium is only vital for your bones and that the consumption of sufficient dairy products can prevent bone-related diseases. In reality, the role of calcium in the human body is varied and complicated, and looking after your Ca needs extra attention!
Why do you need Ca for your body?
Calcium is a mineral that is essential for life. However, it isn’t an element that your body is able to produce naturally. More importantly, the human body loses calcium every day through the skin, sweat, urine, faeces and nails. It’s easy to see why you need to manage your calcium intake to ensure regular consumption. Indeed, as 99% of the calcium contained in the body is in the bones and the teeth, these areas will be the first source of calcium if you can’t provide enough Ca mineral through your diet. To put it in simple terms, if you don’t get sufficient amount of Ca through your food, your bones and teeth will grow weaker in the process as your body will take what it needs from there. Ca is used in a variety of body interactions, including prevention of blood clots, maintenance of nerves communication and muscles contraction, and it’s also an essential mineral involved in fertility treatments. Additionally, many enzymes rely on calcium as a cofactor. In short, calcium is involved at various levels in the organism.
Are your teeth made of bone?
If calcium constitutes the main element in your bones and teeth, it’s natural to wonder whether your skeleton and your smile are made of the same material. The answer is yes, but there are slight differences. Indeed, the material found in the enamel of your teeth and your bones has a different composition and diverging properties, even though both are made of calcium. The tooth enamel is the hardest mineralised substance in the body. It is, as surprising as it might sound, harder than your skeleton. Your bones are composed of cells embedded in a mineralised mixture. The calcium in your bone is stored in the bone tissue and can be released into the body if your Ca intake is too low. Contrary to the teeth, the bone is a dynamic tissue that is constantly formed, broken down and reformed. However, the research to combine the calcium in your teeth as a way to repair broken bones permanently is undergoing.
Caring for the Ca in your teeth
As your teeth don’t regrow – except for baby teeth and natural maintenance – you need to care about them attentively. Once a tooth is broken, there is no growing back. That’s precisely for this reason that you can take a preventive approach and look for a full coverage dental insurance to ensure that you can give your teeth all the attention they need. Aside from decay and breakage, which are some of the most common complaints about the Ca in your smile, calcium deficiency is a common but yet ignored issue. A natural erosion, as you use your teeth occurs, but thankfully through the natural calcium maintenance if your body, this phenomenon can be replaced. However, if you don’t consume enough Ca, your body will not be able to replace the eroded calcium from your teeth. As a result, your teeth become breakable and can chip easily. If noticed early, you can help your body to replace the lost calcium and repair your teeth. However, if left unattended, your calcium deficiency might be the end of your smile.
The Ca in your bones needs care too
Admittedly, the calcium in your bones requires a lot of care too, especially as it is the first element that will be used in case of a Ca deficiency. You can get the calcium you need from alkaline foods such as fruits, vegetables, nuts and seeds, as well as dairy. However, your body requires vitamin D to be able to absorb Ca. Otherwise, your calcium intake remains unused. Additionally keeping an active lifestyle can help not only to protect your bones through your muscles but also to maintain a healthy bone density.
But Ca has other functions in the body
Bones and teeth might be the main calcium-based elements in your body, but Ca has other essential functions. A high dose of calcium in the brain might put you at risk of developing Parkinson’s disease, as it might accelerate the damage to the cells responsible for the movement and balance hormone, dopamine. Consequently damage in this area can lead to tremors and stiffness. Indeed, it would appear that calcium-blocking drugs, such as the ones used to control blood pressure, could protect against the onset of the disease.
Can you have too much Ca?
Unfortunately, there are other risks, aside from Parkinson’s, that are linked to hypercalcemia in the body. The high presence of calcium in the blood can lead to damage of the body tissues as well as the weakening of the bones. Additionally, hypercalcemia is a significant factor in cases of advanced cancer. If left untreated the results can be devastating, from a coma to death.
In conclusion, calcium is not only a crucial element of life in the body, but it is also a factor to manage regularly to avoid complications in your bones, teeth, brain and nerves transmission.