Monday August 25 2014

Talking medicine: The benefits of taking calcium

Milk is considered one of the best sources of

Milk is considered one of the best sources of calcium. file photo 

By Stella Nakakande

This week, let us talk about calcium. It is an important mineral that helps in the functioning of the heart and formation of bones and teeth.
Calcium supplements are only required when there is a deficiency of the mineral in the body. However, the amount that every individual takes depends on age and wellbeing. Children, pregnant women and breastfeeding mothers are advised to consume more of this mineral.

People who suffer from osteoporosis, a condition that leads to wasting of the bone, are also encouraged to consume more calcium.
As people age, the bones become brittle and fragile because of hormonal changes, or deficiency in calcium and Vitamin D. As a result, bones are in a constant state of renewal. While new bones are being formed, the old ones are broken down. In young people, the rate at which the body forms new bones is higher than the rate at which it is brokendown.

This means that a person’s risk of developing osteoporosis depends on how much bone mass they develop as they grow, with the peak bone mass usually happening when people are in their 20s.
Osteoporosis is also common in post-menopausal women, because of the reduction in the production of oestrogen in the body. People with low body weight, smokers, alcoholics and those who live sedentary lifestyles are prone to developing weak bones.

And it is for the above reasons that calcium is usually recommended. Calcium can be in the form of injections or tablets. The tablets contain either 300 or 600 miligrammes of the calcium.
A person can also get calcium minerals through dairy products. These products, which include milk, yoghurt, cheese and buttermilk contain a form of calcium that the body can absorb easily.

However, calcium intake is associated with disturbances of the digestive system, reduced heartbeat rate or a reduction in low blood pressure. People with kidney disease and respiratory complications are advised against taking calcium medication. Therefore, before you take calcium treatment, it is better to consult a doctor or pharmacist.

The writer is a pharmacist