Calcium is an essential element of the earth.
Chemically, it is listed at the 20th position in the periodic table, which is its atomic number.
It is classified as a metallic element, and its oxides are alkaline in nature.
It combines with many other elements to form various compounds.
Calcium is one of the vital substances used by man in daily life.
Calcium Uses in Everyday Life
Calcium is in many chemical forms around us, and hence, it is beneficial to us in different forms.
Role in the body
- Calcium is an element of bones and teeth in the body.
- Further, the calcium ion Ca2+ is an important electrolyte in the body. It helps in the nerve signal transduction pathway and muscle contractions.
- Ca2+ helps in the conduction and maintenance of nerve signals and impulses in the body. Here it acts as a second messenger.
- The Ca2+ ion is transmitted through pores called calcium channels in the cells and tissues.
- There are two hormones that control blood levels in the body. These hormones include Parathormones and Vit-D.
- Hence the food we consume should have sufficient amounts of it to avoid deficiency. This can be easily found in dairy products and grain.
For blood clotting
- Calcium is essential for the blood clotting process.
- Calcium in the blood is one of the essential factors for the hemostasis mechanism.
- Hence, while extracting blood, it is mixed with ascorbic acid to prevent calcium from the process of hemostasis and blood clotting.
Heart and other muscles function
- Muscle is a contractile tissue that helps in various processes of body physiology like the heartbeat, respiration, digestion, movements, etc.
- These muscles contract by the contraction of muscle filaments like the actin and myosin.
- These muscle filaments, in the presence of ATP and Calcium, help in the contraction of muscles.
- So without calcium, muscle control would be deficient.
Even the tone and contractility of heart muscles are maintained by calcium.
In receptor mechanism
- Receptors are the agents which help in chemical signal processing in the cells.
- There are many types of receptors in our body that help in the communication of hormones, neurotransmitters, drugs, etc.
- Calcium has an important role in the function of these receptors.
- Calcium vesicles store calcium in the cell cytoplasm and release it for the contraction of muscle cells etc.
5. In bone formation
- All the bones of the body, either big or small or hard and soft, are made of calcium. These bones are formed explicitly from calcium phosphate (CaPO4).
- Hence, surgeons prescribe the use of calcium supplements during bone fracture for quicker healing.
6. Tooth formation and growth
- Teeth present in the mouth for chewing are made of calcium. They are so hard to help in the breakdown of food materials.
Calcium in plants.
- Calcium has a small but important role in plants.
- It is a secondary nutrient and is essential for the normal physiology and anatomy of plants.
- It forms a part of the cell wall contents of the plant cell.
- It forms calcium pectate, which holds the surrounding cell walls together.
- Thus, it helps the cells to stay intact and gives rigidity and strength.
- It is also involved in the activation of a few enzymes responsible for normal physiology.
Plants also form calcium oxalate crystals to detoxify calcium.
- Calcium is an essential substance used in the construction of buildings, bridges, towers, etc., for ages.
- It is used as calcium hydroxide, calcium carbonate, gypsum, plaster of Paris, etc.
Calcium carbonate is used in building materials. This calcium carbonate is mixed with sand and water and used as a binding material in between stones or bricks.
- This mixture dries up to become a hard mixture.
- Thus, it holds the structure tight and rigid. It is currently less preferred due to fear of acid rains which melt away the alkaline calcium carbonate.
- But it said that construction made with it CaCO3 is cooler than cement-made structures.
- Besides, calcium carbonate, by its alkaline property, can be used as an antacid and in food preparations to minimize acid.
- It is also used as a calcium supplement in health care. Especially the organic calcium from the oyster shell is preferred for better compatibility.
- But the cheaper alternative is CaCO3.
- Also, CaCO3 is used in making chalks, whitewashing walls, etc.
Applications In Medicine
Calcium is also used in a few medical and therapeutic applications like the below.
- Calcium, due to its alkaline property, is used as a powerful antacid in case of acidity of the stomach.
- The calcium formulation neutralizes the hydrochloric acid released in the stomach and helps to relieve the symptoms instantly.
- It is used as Calcium oxide or calcium hydroxide in tablet or suspension form to relieve acidity.
As calcium supplement
- In older people, the bone density goes down, leading to problems like osteoporosis. In such a case, supplemental vitamin d calcium is administered.
- Though elemental calcium can be given, organic calcium from seashells is widely preferred.
- Calcium gluconate is administered as a supplement in the treatment of hypocalcemia.
- In menopause and osteoporosis, recommended amounts of calcium intake are recommended to enhance bone density, especially in women above 30 years of age.
For hypertension and heart problems.
These calcium channels through which calcium ion move is an important target for many life-saving medicines like calcium channel blockers.
These medicines block these channels and help to control hypertension and some forms of cardiac arrhythmias.
Calcium uses in other daily life activities.
- Gypsum is another compound made of calcium. It is highly used in giving a smooth finish to walls. It is also used in making chalk pieces and bricks for construction.
- Gypsum is also used as fertilizer in agriculture.
- Plaster of Paris (bone break) is used in making statues, idols, etc. It is another form of gypsum. It is primarily used for making sculptures.
- Pearls are some of the expensive gemstones. They are obtained naturally from oysters. Oysters are a type of mollusks that use calcium to form pearls.