We all want to look fabulous on the outside – Makeup, Hair, Clothes, Shoes, Bags etc…
However, true fabulosity comes from the inside. Being healthy, happy and fulfilled gives you a glow that no amount of makeup can recreate.
Today, we’ll focus on Calcium. One of the essential minerals for healthy teeth and bones.
Calcium is one of the food sources, that nature has blessed mankind with and its highly valuable functions in the body, has compelled mankind to go into studying it and coming up with some information which will definitely make it more appreciated by the general populace.
Researches being conducted by nutritionists and dietitians all over the world have been revealing a lot of information about this all important food source. In this write up, an in-depth x-ray into this food source would be done. Calcium is believed to be found majorly in bones, other sources, include the followings:
SOURCES OF CALCIUM
• It can be sourced from dairy milk, though research has shown that this sort of products are not recommended for infants, until they attain the age of 12 months, but yogurts and cheese can be introduced to infants at the age of 6months, this possible because of the light nature of this two.
• Vitaminous and mineral supplements
• Low fat dairy products
• Breast milk from nursing mothers, which is quite important for babies, because of its antibiotic nature, which insulates babies from contracting diseases.
• Brazilian almond nuts & sesame seeds.
• Green leafy vegetables e.g. spinach, peas and beans
• Fortified fruit juices & breakfast cereals
• It will be quite instructive that we discuss the essence of bones in this write up, because of its vital role in providing large quantity of calcium
BENEFITS OF CALCIUM
The benefits of calcium in our daily existence cannot be overemphasized, as they are there for everyone to see and they include the followings amongst possible others:
i. Calcium makes the contraction of muscle, blood vessel expansion and contraction, secretion of hormones and enzymes possible, while also transmitting impulses throughout the nervous system The body also strives to maintain constant concentration of calcium in blood muscle and intercellular fluids, through less than 1% of total body calcium is needed to support these functions
ii. It supports the bones and teeth structure
Bones are living tissues in human beings, which tend to breakdown as we advance in age, thereby slowing or even stopping outright bone building, however one finds succor in the welcome trend that the process of this breakdown can be slowed down through the abstinence from the following: smoking, excessive consumption of caffeine related beverages, alcohol and lack of body exercises, that we always aid metabolism. To also further check the rate of break down, one needs to take adequate important bone nutrients throughout one’s life time, so as to assist in maximizing and maintenance of bone mass and minimize the possibility of developing a life threatening bone disease called osteoporosis.
As women enter menopause, there is a reduction in the levels of hormones that help to preserve bone health throughout adult life. There is also a corresponding dramatic and irreversible loss in bone mass. In addition, women live longer than men, so in the years beyond menopause, when age-related bone loss continues, they are more likely to develop problems related to their bone loss.
Calcium is required for muscle contraction, blood vessel expansion and contraction, secretion of hormones and enzymes, and transmitting impulses through the nervous system. The body strives to maintain constant concentrations of calcium in blood, muscle, and intercellular fluids, though less than <1% of total body calcium is needed to support these functions.
The remaining 99% of the body’s calcium supply is stored in the bones and teeth where it supports their structure. Bone itself undergoes continuous remodeling, with constant resorption and deposition of calcium into new bone. The balance between bone resorption and deposition changes with age. Bone formation exceeds resorption in growing children, whereas in early and middle adulthood both processes are relatively equal. In aging adults, particularly among postmenopausal women, bone breakdown exceeds formation, resulting in bone loss that increases the risk of osteoporosis over time.
Intake recommendations for calcium and other nutrients are provided in the Dietary Reference Intakes (DRIs) developed by the Food and Nutrition Board (FNB).
DRI is the general term for a set of reference values used for planning and assessing the nutrient intakes of healthy people. These values, which vary by age and gender include:
– Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA): average daily level of intake sufficient to meet the nutrient requirements of nearly all (97%-98%) healthy individuals.
– Adequate Intake (AI): established when evidence is insufficient to develop an RDA and is set at a level assumed to ensure nutritional adequacy.
– Tolerable Upper Intake Level (UL): maximum daily intake unlikely to cause adverse health effects .
The FNB established AIs for the amounts of calcium required to maintain adequate rates of calcium retention and bone health in healthy people. They are listed in Table 1 in milligrams (mg) per day.
Table 1: Adequate Intakes (AIs) for Calcium 
|0-6 months||210 mg||210 mg|
|7-12 months||270 mg||270 mg|
|1-3 years||500 mg||500 mg|
|4-8 years||800 mg||800 mg|
|9-13 years||1,300 mg||1,300 mg|
|14-18 years||1,300 mg||1,300 mg||1,300 mg||1,300 mg|
|19-50 years||1,000 mg||1,000 mg||1,000 mg||1,000 mg|
|50+ years||1,200 mg||1,200 mg|
mg = milligrams
CALCIUM INTAKE AND STATUS
The indigenous people of West Africa and other parts of sub-Saharan Africa are subject to a variety of factors which can lead not only to a decrease in the maximum bone mass that an individual attains but also an accelerated age-related bone loss:
– Diets in West Africa generally contain relatively low amounts of calcium. For example, it was estimated that pregnant and lactating women in rural Gambia have a dietary calcium intake of 400 mg/day.
– In a recent dietary study conducted in northern Nigeria, it was reported the mean dietary calcium intakes for urban men and women were 551 and 447 mg/day, respectively. These intakes are substantially below the US recommended dietary intakes of 1000 mg/day for adults.
– In addition to low-calcium diets, many populations in sub-Saharan Africa place a heavy reliance on cereal staples which contain oxalates that decreases the bioavailability of calcium as well as other trace minerals .
– African women are under the additional calcium-depleting stress of extended breastfeeding of 2 years or more for each child, a condition exacerbated by high parity .
– Estrogen replacement therapy is generally not widely available for post-menopausal women in most parts of Africa, primarily for economic reasons.
– Collectively, these factors place most Africans, particularly post-menopausal women, at an increased risk for osteoporosis and bone fracture.
A few calculations on per capita intake of milk in Nigeria:
Per capita consumption of milk in Nigeria is estimated at 10 liters of milk per annum. This equates to 27.4 ml of milk per day. If this 27.4 ml is taken as a daily volume the proposed Loya milk formulation will deliver 51.37 mg of calcium per day.
As stated in the independent research papers on the status of calcium in the Nigerian population there is a need for additional calcium in the diet. Daily consumption of a calcium-enriched milk powder will assist in increasing the calcium intake, at the moment the daily intake is far below recommended daily intake values. To reach the Tolerable upper levels as stated in table 3 an individual will consistently need to consume 1 328 ml of recombined milk per day (485 liter per annum). As can be seen from the current per capita data this is a very unlikely scenario as current per capita consumption is estimated at 10 liters per annum
Bones and Movement have been identified globally as one of the top 10 trends in nutrition. This is because people are becoming more aware of the health of their bones and joints. This is even more pertinent in West Africa and other parts of sub-Saharan Africa where it has been established that our diets contain relatively low amounts of Calcium.
This has led to the enrichment and fortification of Dairy products in different parts of the world as an effective and safe way to increase the calcium intake of the population. This is why dairy companies have all introduced dairy products enriched with more calcium than regular dairy products.
An individual’s calcium intake is important in maintaining their bone density over a lifetime. The low dietary calcium intake of Nigerians is of particular concern. In developed countries, dietary calcium intake is enhanced by the consumption of fortified foods and calcium supplements. The provision of a locally available calcium enriched milk powder will help to solve this problem.
Info Source: Loya Milk & Office of Dietary Supplements – National Institute of Health