PART 1: CALCIUM & PHOSPHORUS
Nutrients are the key to our well being. Among the collection of nutrients, minerals are one of the chief driving factors of all the chemical reactions in our body and hence facilitate the proper functioning of the machinery within our body. Essential Minerals are categorized as – Macrominerals and Microminerals. Although in its overall relationship about 60 different minerals have been identified in the body, the 21 essential minerals listed below would make up about five pounds of the total body structure, and are vital requirements in order for the human body to function properly. Follow the series of articles over the next few weeks to learn just how important Minerals are, especially during the early years of life.
Macro minerals are: Calcium,Phosphorous, potassium, Sulphur, Sodium, Chlorine, Magnesium
Micro minerals or ‘Trace Elements’ are: Iron, Iodine, Zinc, Selenium, Manganese, Copper, Cobalt, Molybdenum, Chromium, Flourine, Silicon, Vanadium, Nickel, Tin
Among the wide range of minerals present within us, calcium reigns among them all, followed by phosphorus. We owe 3-4 pounds of our body weight to calcium, 99% of which prevails in our bones and teeth while the remaining part is distributed throughout our tissues and blood.
Calcium is the backbone of healthy bones and teeth and without this mineral our body would descend into a state of fragility. It helps our muscles to perform their functions with ease and as a result saves us from heart disorders and irregularities related to blood pressure. It also assists the nervous system by conveying messages between the nerves through conduction of nerve impulses. Calcium acts as a natural sedative and relaxes our mind with a peaceful night of sleep, thus relieving it from any undue stress
The presence of calcium in our body is indispensable for good health. The body understands the importance of calcium and hence maintains a system to preserve its adequate quantity of in our body. The bones and teeth are the prime storehouse of calcium since childhood and supply us with this mineral whenever necessary.
The part of the bone broken down for calcium supply is immediately refurnished by the calcium acquired from our diet, thus maintaining a proper balance. Entry of the calcium through food is controlled by a hormone called parathormone and Vitamin D which regulate the absorption of calcium through the small intestine. The absorption of calcium is enhanced when our body calls for it and toned down when calcium is abundant in the blood.
In order to assure strong bones in future, one should start treating their body with calcium right from childhood. According to Institute of Medicine (IOM), the calcium supplement in diets should keep changing with growing age in the following manner (requirements shown is daily):
1 to 3 years old — 700 milligrams
4 to 8 years old — 1000 milligrams
9 to 18 years old — 1,300 milligrams.
However, failing to maintain the above supply might lead to a number of discomforts in our body. When our body lacks calcium, it fails to redeposit in the bones, thus making it brittle in the process and ultimately leading to porous bones or osteoporosis. Calcium deficiency also invites the chances of tetany (involuntary contraction of the muscles), muscle cramps, irritable nerves, arthritis, hypertension, mood swings and other behavioural impairments.
In order to save ourselves from such perilous outcome, we should treat ourselves with foods rich in calcium. To start with, include dairy products and leafy greens in our daily diet. Bony fishes like sardines and salmon, fruits like papaya and oranges, sesame seeds, oats, flax seeds, Brazil nuts will also enrich our body with this vital mineral; therefore consume calcium food sources whenever you get a chance.
Even though calcium is the key element in bones, the formation of healthy bones will only attain fulfilment in the presence of sufficient resource of phosphorus in our body. Calcium and phosphorus are the two major minerals that are in the bones is our body. In spite of being a poisonous element, phosphorus is a blessing to our well being, without which our existence would become questionable.
The calcium combines with phosphorus to form a crystal called hydroxyapatite and calcium phosphate – the crucial ingredients of bone. Apart from making our bones, they form an imperative component of DNA and RNA which form the genetic framework. Phosphorus makes up the high-energy phosphate bonds in ATP and thus set off energy production in our system. Phosphorus combines with lipid to form the structural element of cell membranes, without which the cells would be lacking in their firmness. It also helps to maintain the neutralit of the body fluids.
In order to prevent the functions of our body from running haywire, adequate supply of phosphorus through diet then is also mandatory. An adult body needs about 700 mg of phosphorus daily while the requirement of a child ranges between 275mg-500 mg per day, depending on the age group. But lack of phosphorus in our body leads to a number of complications like sense of fatigue, frail bones prone to breakage, cardiomyopathy (heart muscle disease) and deteriorating muscular functions. It is very important to make a point to incorporate foods such as peanuts, wheat, rice, peas, sunflower seeds, eggs and other dairy products and chicken in our diet regimen to maintain a healthy life.
When we break down the body’s requirements we have a better understanding of the keys to salubrity is a balanced diet which supplies our bodies with all the nutrients essential for healthy living. So eat right and stay fit!
By Liya Das
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