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Role of Calcium in body nutrition
Calcium is a mineral necessary to build and maintain strong bones and teeth, which also aids a number of other body processes. These include blood clotting, blood vessel and muscle contraction, enzyme and hormone secretion and the central nervous system functioning. Calcium happens to be the bodyÃÂ¢Ã¢âÂ¬Ã¢âÂ¢s most common mineral. On average, calcium makes up about 2.3% of a person body weight.
Nearly all calcium in the body is stored in bones. Its role is to help bones to remain strong and stiff enough to carry the weight of the body. When needed, the body can draw upon these calcium reserves in the bones and use it elsewhere, such as in the bloodstream and soft tissues.
Calcium is a mineral and so it cannot be produced by the body. Therefore, consuming adequate levels of calcium is crucial. The body needs a constant supply of calcium from diet to keep bones growing and strong. Bone re modelling is an ongoing process in which bone is broken down and calcium is deposited to replace the bone material that is lost. However, when the amount of calcium in the bloodstream is too low, calcium stored in bones is broken down and used in the bloodstream. This may lead to the calcium depletion in bones, a process that can take many years.
During childhood, people undergo a great amount of bone formation. Most individuals can continue to build bone mass until their mid-30s. However, after age 35, they can only slow the bone loss, which is a natural part of aging. Bone loss accelerates especially in women following menopause.
By eating diets high in calcium early in life, children and adolescents should try to build peak bone mass. This can help reduce the risk of fractures and osteoporosis in later life. Weight-bearing exercises can help to maximize bone strength and bone density. Although people cannot build new bone after age 35, appropriate calcium intake (especially in conjunction with vitamin D) and engaging in weight-bearing exercises can help them to hold on or significantly slow the loss of the bone mass they have.
Basic Functions of Calcium.
Calcium performs a number of basic functions in your body. Your body uses 99 percent of its calcium to keep your bones and teeth strong, thereby supporting skeletal structure and function. The rest of the calcium in your body plays key roles in cell signaling, blood clotting, muscle contraction and nerve function. Cells use calcium to activate certain enzymes, transport ions across the cellular membrane, and send and receive neurotransmitters during communication with other cells. As an electrolyte, or a particle that helps conduct electricity in the body, calcium is also one of the key players in maintaining a regular heartbeat.
Diseases and Conditions
Calcium may decrease the risk for colorectal cancer and can lower systolic blood pressure in individuals with high blood pressure. Additionally, you can decrease your risk for osteoporosis by consuming adequate amounts of calcium throughout your life. Some research also suggests eating calcium-rich foods may decrease your risk for overweight and obesity, although this topic is widely debated within the science community. A study published in a 2004 issue of "Obesity" showed individuals on a high-calcium, high-dairy diet lost 70 percent more body weight than individuals on a low-calcium diet when caloric intake was the same.
Calcium Deficiency consequences
Calcium deficiency simply means that people have inadequate stores of calcium. This can result from poor diet, decreased calcium absorption or increased calcium excretion. The body calcium stores are constantly being depleted through shed hair, skin, nails, sweat, feces and urine. Moreover, calcium can only be absorbed in the digestive tract if the body also has an adequate supply of vitamin D.
When calcium levels in the body fall too low, the bones have to supply calcium to tissues and fluids so that normal biological functions can continue. As a result, calcium deficiency can cause the bones to weaken, raising the risk of fracture and increasing the risk of osteoporosis. A person will typically not experience any symptoms of calcium deficiency while the body will be depleting the calcium stores in the bones. Low blood calcium known as hypocalcemia is usually not caused by a lack of dietary calcium but is a result of other medical conditions or use of medications. In extreme cases, hypocalcemia can cause abnormal heart rhythms and may even be fatal.
Dietary sources of Calcium
Depending on the culture, the biggest sources of calcium include milk and dairy products, fish with bones, soy and soy products. Other good dietary sources of calcium include almonds, orange juice, dried figs, green leafy vegetables, fortified cereals and some dried beans. Remember that vitamin D is vital for the body to process calcium, so make sure you also get adequate amounts of this vitamin from your diet. Experts generally recommend that people, especially children, get their calcium from dietary sources but in some cases a doctor may recommend supplementation.
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