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Calcium and bones

Everyone knows that calcium is vital for healthy and strong bones. The importance of proper calcium intake during childhood is also a matter of common knowledge. However, not everyone knows exactly why is calcium so important for the bones.

There are several essential factors that play an important role in bone development. Nutrition, hormones, exposure to sunlight and proper exercise are among those factors. Exposure to sunlight is important because the skin produces vitamin D due to sun radiation and vitamin D is also very important for strong bones.

Hormones that are essential for bones are those produced by the pituitary gland, thyroid and parathyroid glands, ovaries and testes. These hormones stimulate the growth of muscles and bones, participate in protein synthesis, and some of them also regulate the levels of calcium in blood.

Calcium is tightly connected to the hormones. If there is not enough calcium in the body, the parathyroid hormone is released and it causes osteoclasts to break down bone tissue, which results in the release of calcium into the bloodstream. When the calcium is too high, the thyroid gland secretes a hormone with the opposite effect- it inhibits the activity of osteoclasts and all the excess calcium is stored in the bone matrix.

This basically means that the process in which calcium contributes to normal bone growth and development is not an isolated one and it is codependent with various other factors.

Calcium during menopause

Menopause is the time when a lot of changes occur in a woman’s body. One of those changes involves bones and their structure. Osteoporosis is a disease that causes bone loss and it is common among women in menopause, especially if they are slim and of Caucasian and Asian descent. The osteoblastic activity of the bones during menopause is decreased and the bones become more brittle and prone to fractures.

When a woman reaches menopause age, doctors recommend taking extra calcium to assure the bones remain strong and healthy, along with other measures, such as moderate physical activity. Even though calcium is largely present in many natural sources, many experts recommend taking supplements as well, simply because an average American’s diet does not meet all the nutritional requirements.

In order to assure proper calcium intake, it is recommended to eat foods such as yogurt, cheese, milk, cream, spinach, broccoli, fortified juices and cereals. Depending on the personal needs, it is also recommended to consider taking calcium supplements.

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