The Importance of Calcium and Phosphorous to the Body

A Detailed Discussion of the importance of calcium and phosphorus to the body.

Both calcium and phosphorous play important parts in the health of the body. Specifically, these minerals are essential for healthy bones and teeth, but also have other important roles within the body.

The vast majority of calcium (around 99%) is stored within the bones and the remainder in the teeth and other body tissue. This means that calcium is a major component of the bones, giving rigidity and strength to the skeleton and bones. Bone is continually rebuilt in the body, with new bone being formed and to a lesser extent this also applies to teeth, therefore sufficient calcium intake is essential to good health.

Calcium is also important in many functions of the body. It circulates in the blood and appears in body tissue where it helps blood to clot when needed. It also plays a part in the proper functioning of the nerves, relieves aching muscles (including the heart) and helps them to contract, relieves aching bones, improves the skin, helps prevent osteoporosis and helps maintain correct acid and alkaline balance within the body.

Although calcium is the most abundant mineral within the body, it is also the one that is most likely to be under supplied by the diet. Dairy products such as milk, yoghurt and cheese and tinned fish such as salmon and sardines (where the bones are eaten) are the main sources of calcium and many people, especially teenagers and older adults, may be lacking sufficient calcium from their diet.

Long term deficiency in calcium may lead to the bone disease osteoporosis, tooth decay, high blood pressure, insomnia and nervousness, joint pain, arthritis, muscle cramps, eczema and hyperactivity. Too much calcium in the blood can lead to tiredness, vomiting, loss of appetite, diarrhoea, low blood pressure and confusion.

Phosphorus combines with calcium to form calcium phosphate which gives strength and rigidity to bones and teeth and, like calcium, is important for the growth and maintenance of the skeleton.

This important mineral plays many other important roles within the functioning of the body. It is important for energy utilisation in the body as it is involved in the release of energy from fat, protein and carbohydrates during metabolism. Phosphorous is also involved in the formation of DNA and many enzymes within the body.

Phosphorous also plays a major part in regulating the balance of acids and alkalis within the body and is available from many foods and milk products such as meat, poultry, fish, eggs, legumes, nuts and whole grains.

Deficiency of this mineral is not common, but if so it may cause anaemia, nervous system problems, loss of appetite, muscle weakness, rickets and kidney stones. Too much phosphorous in the body can present as anxiety, breathing difficulties, fatigue and skin sores and in the long term can cause bone pain and weakness and problems with the blood vessels and heart.