What Calcium Can Do for Your Health

You’ve probably heard that getting the right amounts of various vitamins and minerals is essential to your good health. Calcium is especially emphasized for some, thanks to its role in bone health. You may know that calcium is good for you, but do you know what it can do for your health?

Regulate Muscle Contraction

One of the less well-known things calcium does for your health is its role in regulating muscle contractions. Calcium is essential in the process of muscle contractions. Without it, the muscle fibers that make up your muscles won’t contract. When nerve cells signal muscle fibers to contract, the muscle cells release calcium ions that bind to muscle cell proteins called tropomyosins. That reaction allows another type of protein called myosin to bind onto and pull muscle filaments, resulting in muscle contraction. A calcium pump then returns the calcium ions. The reduced calcium level allows the contracted muscle to relax.

Strengthen Your Bones

Calcium’s impact on bone strength is one of the more well-known impacts it has on your health. Calcium is essential to strong bones. The vast majority of the calcium in your body can be found in your bones and teeth. It plays an important role in bone development while you’re growing and slows down the loss of bone density that comes as a normal part of the aging process. If you don’t get the calcium you need from your diet, your body will take it from your bones. That is why it’s so important to eat a diet that contains enough calcium. Similar things can be said of your teeth, which is why dairy is often considered so good for you. Milk can have positive effects on your teeth because of the calcium and phosphorus.

Reduce Blood Pressure

Almost 150,000 million Americans either have high blood pressure (hypertension) or blood pressure levels that are higher than what is considered healthy (prehypertension). That’s a serious problem. While calcium doesn’t have a drastic impact on blood pressure, it has been shown to reduce it slightly. Even that can be enough to reduce the risk of vascular diseases by a measurable amount. Studies on calcium’s impact on blood pressure show that it has the biggest impact on younger people who have normal blood pressure, which suggests that calcium may have a role to play in preventing hypertension.

On average, people need 1,000 mg of calcium per day. To put that in perspective, one cup of milk has 300 mg of calcium, one cup of yogurt contains 450 mg of calcium, and an ounce of hard cheese, like cheddar or jack, or mozzarella has 200 mg of calcium. A cup of cooked spinach has 240 mg of calcium. Certain fish, seeds, nuts, grains, legumes, and fruits may also be good sources of calcium. Check on the bioavailability of calcium in what you eat. Just because a food contains a lot of calcium doesn’t mean that your body can absorb all of it.

Check out this article on nutrients that are critical to your digestive health!

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