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Calcium: A Wonder Substance

The term calcium is often heard in advertisements on milk. As these ads go, they will try to convince you that milk is good for you because it contains calcium, which is necessary for bone growth. And they are right. Milk is an excellent source of calcium that is needed for healthy and strong bones and teeth. Calcium is also seen in advertisements for antacids. Often coupled with carbonates, they are often used to neutralize the excess acids in the stomach.

With all this fuss on calcium, you would wonder what calcium really is. Is it a vitamin or a mineral? Calcium is actually an element that exists as a cation or a positive ion in the body. The percentage of calcium in the body is roughly 4%. It plays a lot of roles in the body, including bone and teeth growth, contraction of muscles, and keeping the homeostatic balance within the cells.

To discuss further, calcium is needed by the bone cells to keep the bone strong. Calcium here acts as a mineral deposit in bones to keep it sturdy. Deficiency of calcium may end in brittle bones as well as stunted growth in young people. Don’t you wonder why pregnant women are encouraged to drink milk and to augment their supply of calcium in their diet? The reason for this is that the developing fetus needs calcium and Vitamin D for the development of bones and cartilages and their only source of this is the calcium stores of the mother. If the mother does not refill her stores of calcium, it will be depleted. This depletion is not usually felt while still young but as you grow older, the bones become more brittle and prone to breaking. This condition is compounded if the mother gives birth several times and does not take in extra calcium for her body.

Another function of calcium is in the homeostatic balance of the body. Calcium is an extracellular ion that is uses a calcium channel to enter the cells. This entry and exit of calcium together with other ions present in the cell produces a balance inside and outside the cell.

Calcium is also mainly responsible in muscle contraction. When the muscle cell is stimulated by a nerve sensation, it opens the calcium channels found in the cell membrane. As calcium comes inside the cells, it makes them contract simultaneously, thus producing a contraction in the muscle tissue. It is quite important to have enough supply of calcium especially in the cardiac muscles which cannot afford to lose calcium since it will mean a halt in their contraction, therefore a halt also in the beating of the heart, which may lead to heart failure.

Calcium is quite an important substance not only for the human body but for other purposes as well. It is a good thing that it is easily accessible to man.