The burden of bone problems in women is increasing. More women are presenting with easy fracturing of bones, osteoporosis, osteopenia and other bone-related issues because of excess weight-bearing. Research shows that these problems are associated with calcium-deficient diets. Now a question has been raised: Is a calcium-deficient diet solely responsible? The answer is no, because other factors such as vitamin D, certain micronutrients, macronutrients and minerals like magnesium and potassium also play vital roles in this regard. Calcium, however, is the most ample mineral in the body having these two important functions:
- Maintenance of structural integrity to retain physical balance and bone mass.
- Regulation of metabolic activities that help in the functioning of muscles including the heart, brain (nerve) function, secretion of hormones and blood clotting.
Furthermore, calcium also acts as a messenger, passing signals from one cell to another throughout the body.
The physiological requirements of calcium differ throughout the woman’s lifecycle due to changes in bone mass as well as many other physiological changes. Symptoms of calcium deficiency include: fainting; fatigue; muscles cramps, mainly in the back and legs; difficulty in swallowing; tooth decay; numbness and tingling in the hands, feet, and face; weak and brittle nails; easy fracturing of the bones. If left untreated, it may lead to serious consequences like rickets, metabolic disorders, osteoporosis and osteopenia.
Researchers are making great efforts to further understand the burdens of calcium deficiency in our society. They recommend sources and the amount of calcium that is required to maintain women’s bone health. Recommendations include calcium-rich diets with milk and products like yogurt; fish like sardines, pilchards and whitebait; green vegetables like broccoli, kale and Chinese cabbage; soy products like tofu and soy beans; bread and cereals that are made with fortified flour. In addition, taking calcium supplements from an early age, especially for girls and women, along with diet training and body fitness are recommended, as well as organizing programs to help create awareness about calcium and its importance.
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