News & tips on health, fitness and nutrition

Monday, January 28, 2008

Calcium and Osteoporosis

Calcium is one of the most important minerals for human life. The body uses it to form and maintain healthy bones and teeth. Calcium also plays a vital role in nerve conduction, muscle contraction, and blood clotting.

Osteoporosis is a disease in which the calcium content of bones is very low. In this disease, calcium and phosphorus, which are normally present in the bones, become reabsorbed back into the body. This process results in brittle, fragile bones that are easily broken.

Getting enough calcium in the diet throughout childhood and puberty is one key to preventing osteoporosis. A person who does not get enough calcium growing up will not have sturdy bones. An older person who consumes a low-calcium diet is also at great risk for osteoporosis.

The recommended dietary allowances (RDA) for calcium are based on age, gender, and hormonal factors. Many foods, such as some vegetables, contain calcium. However, milk and dairy products are some of the best food sources. Calcium may also be obtained by taking supplements.The bone disease osteoporosis is caused by more bone cells being resorbed than being deposited. This imbalance results in a progressive loss of bone density and a thinning of bone tissue. Osteoporotic bones are more porous and therefore more vulnerable to fracture.

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