It takes time for the skeleton to grow and attain its peak strength about the age of 35. This strength can remain for a long time with a calcium-enriched diet and regular physical exercise. When there is a lack of calcium, the body has to pump calcium stored in the skeleton to the blood. If the situation occurs for a long time, osteoporosis develops. This weakens a person’s bones, especially the spinal column, making them easy to break
Calcium also has a role in the movement of limbs’ muscles. But the lack of calcium lowers its concentration in the blood, which causes cramps in leg muscles. Calcium helps ensure cells, tissue and hormone functions, the metabolism process, and activities relating to nerves and muscles.
This year, the U.S. National Cancer Institute announced the results of research that show that a calcium-enriched diet plays an important role in preventing the development of polyps in the digestion system and rectum cancer. Researchers used colonoscopy to follow up 913 patients for one to for years after starting cancer prevention therapy with calcium. The patients were divided into two groups: one with a supplement of 1,200 g of calcium to their daily regime and the other with placebos.
The result showed that the calcium-enriched regime could lower the number of newly developed polyps that may turn malignant by 20%, and developing polyps by 35%-45%. Although the exact effect of calcium in preventing the development of polyps is as yet uncertain, the researchers recommend a daily supplement of 1,000 mg of calcium for those aged from 19 to 50 and 1,200 mg of calcium for those over 50.
Humans can receive calcium from foods and drinks, of which dairy products supply 60%-80% of the essential calcium for the body. For one, 100g of milk supplies 120mg of calcium, and a glass of milk supplies some 300mg of calcium. Therefore, drinking three to four glasses of milk every day can supply a sufficient amount of calcium for the body. Cheese is also a good source: 100g of cheese can supply 70-1,200mg of calcium.
Apart from being a source of calcium, dairy products also contain vitamins (A and B2), minerals (phosphorus and potassium), and protein. A regime with salmon, sardine, cod (even canned fish with bone), and vegetables ensures a good supply of calcium.
Children and young people need 800-1,200mg of calcium a day, adults need 900mg, women during their menopause need 1,200mg or more, and expectant and nursing mothers need 1,200-1,500mg. It is noteworthy that vitamin D will facilitate the calcium absorption of the body. Vitamin D is present in milk and marine fish; it can be formed in the body when the skin contacts the sunlight. A calcium-enriched regime is recommended for all people, except those who have kidney or urinary problems.