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Spotlight on Calcium and Inattention

written by: Daniel P. McGoldrick • edited by: Paul Arnold • updated: 3/8/2011

An important link between a deficiency in calcium and inattentiveness has been established by researchers. It is now known that calcium plays a pivotal role in regulating certain brain functions and when there is not enough of it, negative consequences can ensue.

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    The Importance of Calcium

    Before we point out the relationship between a deficiency in calcium and inattention, let’s look at just how vital this mineral is to the human body. As much as 2% of your body weight is made up of calcium, which is no trifling amount when you consider that typically 60% of the human body is comprised of water. In fact, calcium is the most abundant mineral in your body and 99% of it is in your teeth and bones.

    The rest of the calcium is in extracellular fluids, blood, and in tissue cells where it plays a vital role in carrying out metabolic functions. It's needed for bones to grow and helps ensure that the heart pumps and muscles operate effectively. The mineral is also integral to the central nervous system as a messenger and signaling molecule.

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    Calcium and Inattention: How a Deficiency Leads to Inattention

    A1994 study by the USDA Continuing Survey of Food Intakes by Individuals (CSFII) concluded that both males and females were below adequate recommendations for calcium intake. But that was before it was realized how inadequate levels of calcium could also be linked to certain brain functions, specifically inattentiveness.

    Since inattentiveness is inherent in ADHD, many experts agree that calcium should be among the supplements and vitamins to take to lessen the symptoms of ADHD. There is a significant amount of calcium in the brain, and this is one of the very exclusive set of minerals that is allowed to cross the blood brain barrier, although it is highly regulated at that.

    An important part in understanding this process rests with the fact that calcium is used as a delivery method for other essential molecules the brain cell needs. The calcium ion can hold onto other molecules and shuttle them throughout the body and into the brain. The calcium ion is also perfectly sized so that it can easily move through body cells, and in so doing transport and deliver the nutrients attached to it.

    Cells that do not receive the nutrients they need due to a calcium deficiency will not work at maximum efficiency - and that includes nerve cells. Calcium is necessary for electrical signals in the nervous system to function properly too. As a secondary messenger, the calcium ions carry messages from the outside of the cell to the inside by binding to certain important proteins.

    This occurs when chemical cells arrive at a brain cell and need a sort of 'ferry' to get in. Once inside, proteins are activated and cause changes within the cell, including turning new sets of genes on.

    Calcium Supplements Therefore, calcium regulation and homeostasis in the brain are crucial to maintaining normal physiologic functions. Without enough calcium on hand to keep the nerves active and the blood coagulating normally, negative reactions to stress and increased inattentiveness are more likely.

    Calcium is an aid to proper nerve impulse transmissions in a person’s brain so that means when you have sufficient amounts, you'll be able to stay on task and be less susceptible to being easily distracted. By the same token this helps to achieve a relaxed state, and when you're relaxed you can remain more focused.

    The benefits of taking calcium supplements should be obvious by now. Besides taking supplements there are many calcium rich foods that will help up your intake and stave off inattentiveness. Milk, yogurt, salmon, cheddar cheese, and mozzarella cheese are among these foods. For a complete list along with percentages and warnings, please visit the link referenced below at www.ohioline.osu.edu.

    Image courtesy of commons.wikimedia.org

    NB: The content of this article is for information purposes and is not intended to replace sound medical advice and opinion.

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    References

    Ohio State University Extension Fact Sheet: Human Nutrition and Food Management http://ohioline.osu.edu/hyg-fact/5000/5506.html

    Innovations in Clinical Science: http://www.innovationscns.com/blood-brain-barrier-the-role-of-calcium-homeostasis/