Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Calcium: Role in the Body & Benefits

Role in the Body
Calcium is necessary for strong bones and teeth. It is also needed for nerve transmission, hormone and enzyme production, blood clotting, muscle contraction, and controlling blood pressure.

Dietary Sources
The best sources are milk and dairy products such as yogurt and ice cream. Other sources include broccoli, spinach, kale, beans, nuts, tofu, sardines, and salmon.

Who Is at Risk for Deficiency?
You may be at risk if you are lactose intolerant, smoke, drink alcohol, or take steroid, thyroid, high-cholesterol drugs, or antacids. Female athletes and menopausal women are also at higher risk. If you are deficient in vitamin D, you can't absorb or use calcium.

Calcium prevents osteoporosis and may prevent high blood pressure, decrease the risk of colon cancer, and prevent kidney stones (only if the calcium comes from dietary sources, not supplements).

People with a history of kidney stones or disease should not take calcium supplements.

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