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26 October, 2007

Health Tips-15: Calcium, a safe-deposit - Devika Murthy

Milk, greens and dhal are some of the food that contain a high quantity of calcium. It is the calcium content that determines the physique and also gives the body resilience.
What oxygen is to the lungs, calcium is to the bones. A component of skeletal mass and shell, calcium(Ca) - a silvery white metal - is an intrinsic part of our body, a kind of safe deposit that is built up during one's growing years, and it is important to see that one has stored enough of it so that when one grows older the bones are still strong.

It is the calcium content that, besides heredity, determines physique and gives the body its resilience. A shortage of it leads to lack of stamina and brittle bones, which in later years results in osteoporosis.

Teeth, which are also wholly calcium-based can turn problematic and painful in periods of deficiency. That is why calcium fluoride, a water-insoluble crystalline mineral is used as a decay preventive in dentrifices. The assuring thing about calcium is that it is readily available in a host of everyday consumables and is just as easily assimilated: Milk - literally awash in calcium - cheese, fresh fruits and yogurt are unfailing suppliers. Leafy vegetables can also take pride in their calcium stock; generous helpings of all locally-grown varieties help boost the body's reserves. So children should be made to understand that shunning greens could end up slowing or stunting their growth.

For lack of calcium, aggravates leaching from bones into the bloodstream, as blood too requires - an infinitesimal but indispensable quantity of - calcium to help produce hormones, aid nerve conduction, regulate heartbeats, draw essential nutrients from food and facilitate myriad physiological functions. Dried dates, rich in calcium as well as apricots are things that most children love; so too til and groundnut laddoos bound with jaggery, which turn into lip smacking treats are filled with calcium.

For Indians, an advantage is the range of dals that we use in our daily meals; all the regulars such as toor, channa, rajma and moong offer respectable levels of it.

Regular exercise stabilises inflow and outflow of calcium, so it is both necessary and advisable. Avoiding aerated drinks, alcohol and nicotine, meats and controlling stress check calcium erosion.

There is truly no dearth of items that provide all the calcium that we can use. The only requirement is that we be aware of the sources and include them in a healthy and tasty diet.

Courtesy: Young World, Supplement to The Hindu, August 28, 1999.
Grateful thanks to The Hindu.

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