May 2014 Home › Calcium nutrition › Zinc health benefits › Functions of selenium › Calcium deficiency symptoms › Functions of calcium and its health benefitsCalcium supports the structure and function of bones and teeth. Multiple health benefits of calcium include regulation of vasoconstriction and vasodilation, neuromotor transmission and several critical cell metabolic functions.
AdvertisementsIt is the most abundant mineral in the human body. The bones and teeth contain 99% of the calcium present in the human body. The remaining 1% is found in the blood serum, soft tissues and interstitial fluids of the tissues. One of the health benefits of the mineral is the alkalizing effect.
Calcium presence in the blood serum is tightly regulated and the normal levels of its ionized form is 4.65 to 5.25 mg/dL (1.16 to 1.31 mmol/L). Irrespective of the quantity in diet, the levels are maintained by sourcing the mineral from the bones by demineralization. Mineral deficiency diseases like hypocalcemia occur when the concentration of free calcium ions in the blood serum falls below 4.0 mg/dL. Certain adverse health conditions may result in higher concentration of calcium ions in the blood serum and lead to diseases like hypercalcemia or milk-alkali syndrome.
Functions of calcium
- Calcium has many functions in the human body. Apart from being the structural component of the bone tissue it has several physiological and biochemical functions. Some functions of calcium are listed below.
Health benefits of calciumHealth benefits of calcium include protection from osteoporosis, hypocalcemia, amenorrhea, cardiovascular disease, hypertension, stress fractures, weight gain and certain cancers.
Benefits of calcium in bone health and functionBone mass keeps increasing in childhood and adolescence.
Postmenopausal women health benefitsWith the onset of menopause, the estrogen production decreases causing many physiological changes in postmenopausal women. Decrease in estrogen production leads to increased bone resorption and decreased calcium absorption resulting in bone loss. Women affected by low estrogen levels are at the increased risk of hypocalcemia, osteoporosis and stress fractures. Taking calcium supplements and undergoing hormone replacement therapy (HRT) may benefit and improve their health by improving the bone function.
Amenorrhea and health benefits of calciumAmenorrheic women and many female athletes tend to have decreased estrogen levels.
CancersSeveral observational and experimental studies have established the link between higher calcium intake and prevention of colon cancer. High levels of intake even reduced the risk of adenoma, a nonmalignant tumor, which sometimes become malignant. A.Galas et al in their study "Does dietary calcium interact with dietary fiber against colorectal cancer? A case-control study in Central Europe" published in Nutrition Journal, 2013 Oct 4;12:134, concluded that the study confirmed the effect of high doses of dietary calcium against the risk of colon cancer development.
Cardiovascular health benefitsThe benefits of the mineral in cardiovascular health is still being debated. Chronic overdoses of the mineral had been found to cause cardiovascular disease. Some studies claim that moderate levels of supplementation can prevent cardiovascular disease.
Hypertensive patients healthIt is well established that calcium supplementation, reduces the systolic blood pressure by 2–4 mmHg in hypertensive patients. However in normotensive individuals, supplementation does not appear to have any function and does not affect systolic or diastolic blood pressure.
Calcium benefits for weight loss?The benefits of the mineral in weight loss is still being debated. A meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials had reported lack of significant effect on weight reduction. However the following studies show that supplementation with the mineral may help in weight loss.
Genevieve C Major et al published their study "Supplementation with calcium + vitamin D enhances the beneficial effect of weight loss on plasma lipid and lipoprotein concentrations" in American Society for Clinical Nutrition (2007). They have concluded that regular intake of calcium and vitamin D during a weight-loss intervention in overweight women with low daily intake of the mineral, had beneficial effect on body weight loss.
Zhu W et al of Department of Nutrition, Shanghai Institute of Health Sciences, have published their study "Calcium plus vitamin D3 supplementation facilitated fat loss in overweight and obese college students with very-low calcium consumption: a randomized controlled trial." in Nutrition Journal 2013, 12:8. They had reaffirmed the health benefits of the mineral by reporting that supplementation of the mineral plus vitamin D3 for 12 weeks facilitated body fat and visceral fat loss during energy restriction in overweight or obese very-low calcium consumers.
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