Calcium is one of the most abundant minerals within our bodies and is involved in a great many processes, such as coagulation, muscle contraction, and the formation and maintenance of bone structure and teeth. Most of the mineral is contained in bone tissue, while the remainder is divided between muscle tissue and various body fluids. A lowering or raising of calcium concentrations can cause serious damage to our bodies, particularly to our muscles; although, generally, its concentration is well regulated by the action of two hormones (parathormone and calcitonin).

As mentioned earlier, among the main functions of calcium we have that of being the basic constituent of bone structures. Bones, during the first part of life, progressively increase their mass, which peaks around the age of 30, and then undergo a progressive physiological reduction that in the most severe cases can go so far as to impair bone function, turning into pathology: osteoporosis. In addition, the bone structure throughout the course of life undergoes continuous remodeling. For this reason, it is necessary to always take a balanced diet and follow an active lifestyle, two factors that turn out to be protective and helpful in maintaining healthy bones.

Calcium requirements for our body vary according to age and physiological conditions, it is higher in the age of growth, during pregnancy, lactation and in the elderly; but in general for anadult subject the daily intake should be around 800-1000 mg. Generally, only a portion (35-40%) of the calcium we take in through food is absorbed by the
our body, and the amount absorbed depends on several factors such as the presence of vitamin D, age and hormonal changes. In addition, certain compounds in some foods can reduce the absorption of this mineral (e.g., anti-nutritional substances such as oxalates and phytates), but caffeine and alcohol can also play an inhibitory role; on the contrary, lactose and ascorbic acid (vitamin C) promote its absorption.But where can we find this mineral that is so important for our bodies?Among the foods that are richest in it are:

  • milk and dairy products;
  • some types of vegetables, especially green leafy greens such as arugula, cabbage, turnip greens, broccoli, artichokes, spinach (although it is less assimilable because of the anti-nutritional substances in them);
  • oily fish, squid and shrimp;
  • dried fruits (peanuts, almonds, pistachios, walnuts and hazelnuts)
  • legumes (soybeans, chickpeas, lentils, beans).

Excellent sources of calcium, moreover, turn out to be waters rich in mineral salts, especially bicarbonate-calcium mineral waters; but even tap water in some cases turns out to be particularly
rich. Therefore, in order to maintain good bone density, it is necessary to follow a varied and balanced diet, but it is also essential to follow a correct lifestyle, regularly practicing physical activity and avoiding smoking, which has a particularly negative influence on the health of our bones.

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