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Veterinarian Reviewed on June 14, 2012 by Paulina Nelega, RH
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Calcium is an element with a chemical symbol Ca and an atomic number of 20. Calcium is the 5th most abundant element on Earth and is characterized by its soft consistency and gray color. Calcium is 2% of the total human weight of the body and it can be found deposited in bones and also in teeth. It can be found in small traces in the circulatory system as well.

There are many foods that are naturally rich in Calcium. It is available in milk, cheese, yogurt, seeds and nuts. There are also dietary supplements that contain Calcium for the support of Calcium deficiency and also several multivitamin pills that contain this mineral, as well as other vitamins for overall health and development.

History and Origin

The word Calcium is from the Latin ‘calx’ which means lime. It was an element well known ever since the first century when the ancient Romans prepared calcium oxide. The study of Calcium as an important element for various metabolic processes in the body began early in the 19th century.

According to the National Osteoporosis Foundation, Calcium plays an important role in a healthy diet and is also needed for stronger and denser bones both early and later on in life.

Ancient Uses

Calcium was first documented in ancient Rome for the preparation of calcium oxide. There is also evidence that in 975 AD, the treatment for broken bones was done by making casts out of plaster of Paris or calcium sulfate.

Modern Uses

The use of Calcium in modern life today is basically for the prevention of many types of illnesses. It is important to have a regular daily allowance of Calcium to maintain bone health and also for the prevention of colon cancer. It is not just small children that need Calcium but also teenagers and adults to prevent weakening of the bone in later life, such as in the case of osteoporosis. Calcium is also known to protect cardiac muscle since insufficient amounts of this mineral may cause the heart to contract and relax at an irregular pattern. This irregular pattern may increase a person’s blood pressure and can lead to many other debilitating diseases.
Having an adequate amount of Calcium in the body may also decrease the effects of premenstrual syndrome. Women may experience depression, bloating, menstrual pain and diarrhea during menstruation and Calcium can ease all these symptoms. Calcium is also needed to maintain oral health and strong teeth and gums. It is also a mineral needed to move nutrients across cell membranes for use of the body tissues and organs.

Side Effects

There are no known side effects of Calcium supplement use. Excessive use of Calcium supplements and antacids over time may cause a milk-alkali syndrome that is characterized by hypercalcemia or increased Calcium levels in the blood, along with renal failure. It is therefore important to control Calcium intake daily, in conjunction with maintaining a healthy diet too. Oral Calcium supplements can decrease the absorption of thyroxine. It is best to consult your doctor if you have hypothyroidism if you want to take Calcium supplements for your medication.

Read also: Rubeola Virus

Our Expert

Paulina Nelega, RH
Paulina Nelega, RH, has been in private practice as a Clinical Herbalist for over 15 years. She has developed and taught courses in herbal medicine, and her articles on health have appeared in numerous publications. She is very passionate about the healing power of nature. Ask Dr. Jan

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