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Rebetol (Ribavirin)

About 99 per cent of the body calcium is found in the bones and teeth where it is combined with phosphorus and other elements to give rigidity to the skeleton. The bones also serve as the storehouse for calcium needed for a number of cellular functions. Calcium is required for the complex process of blood coagulation. Together with other elements it regulates the passage of materials into and out of cells; controls the transmission of nerve messages; brings about the normal contraction of muscles, including the heart; activates enzymes such as pancreatic lipase; and aids in the absorption of vitamin B12.
Calcium absorption from the gastrointestinal tract is regulated according to the body needs for maintenance and growth. The daily absorption ranges from 10 to 40 per cent of the dietary intake. A child who is growing rapidly absorbs a greater proportion of the calcium in his diet than the adult who simply needs to maintain the proper level of calcium in the bones and soft tissues.
Since calcium salts are more soluble in acid solution, most of the absorption takes place from the upper small intestine. Three hormones control the levels of calcium in the blood. When the blood calcium level falls below normal levels, parathormone is secreted by the parathyroid gland. This hormone stimulates the kidney to change vitamin D to its active form, another hormone. Active vitamin D increases the absorption of calcium from the intestine, and also releases calcium from bone so that the blood level rises to normal level. If the blood calcium level is too high, calcitonin is secreted by the thyroid gland. This shuts off the action of the parathyroid and thus brings the calcium level of the blood to normal range.
Daily allowances
The calcium allowance for schoolchildren and adults throughout life is 800 mg. During periods of rapid growth in teenagers and during pregnancy and lactation the calcium allowance is 1200 mg.
Food sources
Any kind of milk – fresh whole, skim, evaporated, dry, yogurt, or buttermilk – is an equally good source of calcium. Hard cheeses such as American and Swiss are excellent. You would need to eat 1 1/2 cups of ice cream or cottage cheese to get the same amount of calcium as that in one cup of milk. Cream cheese and butter, although dairy products are not sources of calcium.
Kale, turnip greens, mustard greens, and collards are good sources of calcium. Broccoli, cabbage, and cauliflower rate as fair sources. Such other greens as spinach, chard, and beet greens contain oxalic acid, which combines with calcium in the intestines to form an insoluble salt. This insoluble compound cannot be absorbed into the blood. Therefore, these greens should not be counted on for calcium, but they do not affect the utilization of calcium from other foods.
Among the fruits, oranges contribute some calcium, although oranges cannot take the place of milk. Canned salmon is a fairly good source of calcium if the tiny bones are eaten. Clams, oysters, lobster, dried beans, and peas are moderate sources, but these foods are not eaten often enough to make an appreciable contribution. Meats and cereal foods are poor sources.
Clinical problems
Calcium deficiency becomes evident only after years of inadequate intake. A dietary deficiency does not lower the blood calcium since the bones will supply the amounts needed. As much as 30 to 40 per cent of bone calcium is lost before changes can be detected by X-ray.
Long periods of immobilization such as those following an injury or being bedfast increase calcium excretion, and many of these persons are in negative calcium balance. Rickets, now rarely seen in infants and children in the United States, is a deficiency more directly related to vitamin D lack, but calcium and phosphorus metabolism are also involved.
Periodontal disease (changes in the structure of the gums) is believed to be an early sign of bone change. About 14 million women and a lesser number of men in the United States, chiefly in the later years of life, have osteoporosis. The older person experiences shorter stature, bone pain and susceptibility to fractures. Osteoporosis is a disease of complex causes, including faulty steroid production after menopause. Some research workers have shown that it occurs more often in non-milk drinkers.

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