Calcium is a chemical element with the symbol Ca and atomic number 20. It is a highly reactive, divalent metal that is essential for life and is the most abundant metal in the human body. Calcium is found in a variety of foods, including dairy products, leafy green vegetables, nuts, and fortified foods, and it is also available as a dietary supplement.
In the body, calcium plays several important roles, including:
- Building and maintaining bones and teeth: Calcium is the main component of bones and teeth and is necessary for their growth and development.
- Regulating muscle contraction: Calcium is involved in the contraction and relaxation of muscles, including the heart muscle.
- Blood clotting: Calcium is necessary for the blood-clotting process.
- Nerve function: Calcium plays a role in transmitting nerve impulses and releasing hormones.
- Enzyme function: Calcium is necessary for the activity of various enzymes involved in metabolism.
Adults need about 1000-1300 milligrams of calcium per day, depending on their age and sex, to maintain good health. Calcium deficiencies can lead to a range of health problems, including osteoporosis, muscle cramps, and weak bones. On the other hand, taking too much calcium can lead to an increased risk of kidney stones and other health problems. It is important to maintain a balanced intake of calcium to support overall health and well-being.