MOTHER Nature knows best. A nutrient does not just serve one function but has many roles in the body, for instance, calcium. Apart from the fact that it is predominantly in the bones and teeth, calcium is required for the efficient working of the heart, nerves and muscles.
According to the National Institute of Health in America, in the land of cheese and milk, many Americans consume less than the recommended amount of calcium to maintain healthy bones. In Malaysia, many are lactose-intolerant and have to depend on non-dairy sources of calcium.
Symptoms of calcium deficiency are not immediately seen as the body breaks down calcium from bone to meet the shortfall in the blood. This increasingly over time increases the risk of bone loss. Cramping in the feet, dry skin, soft and brittle nails or misshapen nails, hair loss, numbness or tingling, deformed bone development and poor sleeping patterns are some of the symptoms of calcium deficiency.
Elevated blood pressure (hypertension) has also been linked with low levels of calcium though not all animal studies and human trials have been conclusive on this. A study carried out on oral supplementation of 1000mg per day of calcium in 57 borderline and mild-to-moderate high blood pressure for 14 weeks followed by a further 14 weeks without supplementation showed that pre-treatment with calcium lowers blood pressure.
The researchers from the Tianjin Hospital in China suggested increased calcium intake lowers blood pressure in hypertension and that the mechanism is probably due to calcium effect on how the body deals with sodium. Excessive consumption of sodium (from salt) is a common cause of high blood pressure especially in