The Bone Drug- I

The human fetish of breaking all the 206 bones in someone's body isn't coming true uptill the person is consciously trying and taking up their calcium uptake upto the mark or unless and until it is some trollywood movie where the hero just goes on and on and breaking the bones of all the villains which are out there.

Calcium is the most common macro mineral and is found abundantly in the human body. About 99% of the calcium in the body is found in bones and teeth, while the other 1% is found in the blood and soft tissue. Calcium levels in the blood and fluid surrounding the cells (extracellular fluid) must be maintained within a very narrow concentration range i.e. 9-11 mg/100ml for normal functioning.

Bone is a highly specialized type of connective tissue. Calcium is a major structural element in bones and teeth. Calcium is deposited during development and used later in life, hence bone acts as a reservoir (storage site) of calcium. Inadequate mineralization of bones in the growing years and adulthood increases the risk of fractures.

Enamel is the hardest tissue in the body, and is 97% mineral. The protein in enamel is keratin and minerals are- Calcium, phosphorus, magnesium and carbonate. Dentin, which forms the largest portion of the tooth, lies beneath the enamel and surrounds the pulp (60% mineral).

When nerve impulse arrives at the junction of a nerve and muscle (neuromuscular junction) the chemical compound (neurotransmitter) acetylcholine is released. Calcium promotes the release of acetylcholine - it bridges the gap between the nerve and muscle fibers therefore making it possible for the nerve impulse to pass the muscle. Calcium plays a role in mediating the constriction and relaxation of blood vessels, nerve impulse transmission, muscle contraction, and the secretion of hormones, such as insulin. It is also required for absorption of the vitamin B12.

It is one of the essential factors in the clotting of blood. Calcium ions participates in

  • Certain steps of blood clotting by activating some of the proteins

  • Involved Platelet accumulation

Calcium is the 5th most abundant element in the Earth's crust, present at a level of about 3 percent in the oceans and soil. The only metals more abundant in the crust are iron and aluminum. Calcium is also abundant on the Moon. It is present at about 70 parts per million by weight in the solar system. Natural calcium is a mixture of six isotopes, with the most abundant (97 percent) being calcium-40.

Calcium is lost through urine, bile, sweat and stools. Estimated loss in adult men may be as much as 700 mg/d. ICMR has given recommendations in order to ensure that peak bone density is attained.

Adult men/women: 600mg/d

Post- menopausal women: 800mg/d Pregnant/lactating women: 1200mg/d

Milk and dairy products are dependable sources of calcium. Calcium in milk is readily available adding chocolate to milk may inhibit calcium absorption. For adults 2-3 cups of milk daily and for children 3-4 cups of milk will ensure adequate calcium intake. Milk is an outstanding source of calcium without satisfactory intake it is difficult to meet the requirements. Cheese and Dahi are also an excellent source of calcium.

A low blood calcium level usually would be for multiple reasons

Abnormal parathyroid (it is a hormone which regulates calcium concentration) function, and rarely due to low dietary calcium intake since the skeleton provides a large reserve of calcium for maintaining normal blood levels.

Other causes of abnormally low blood calcium levels include chronic kidney failure, vitamin D deficiency, low magnesium levels which mainly occurs in case of severe alcoholism.

Calcium deficiency can lead to a lot of deformities and disorders like

Brittle nails; like bones, nails also need calcium deposits for maintaining their integrity. Lack of adequate levels of calcium could make the nails extremely weak and susceptible to breaks.

Toothache; around 99% calcium present in the body is stored in the bones and teeth. If calcium levels drop, increased susceptibility to tooth ache and decay is observed. There is a greater risk of suffering from periodontal disease. In children calcium deficiency has been linked to delayed and defective teething.

Thanks Giving

This article is written and submitted to The E Today by Shrushti Mehta.

We thank her for her research and analysis and hope to see the awareness about health and nutrition being spread ahead to larger mass of our citizens.

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