Quantity elements at a glance: Calcium - the heavyweight
In terms of quantity, calcium is the leader in minerals: up to one kilogram is contained in our body. Almost 99 percent of them are found in bones and teeth. In addition, it is also important for the muscles and nerves, in the defense against allergies and inflammation and for blood clotting.
Calcium deficiency can occur in certain parathyroid diseases as well as in chronic kidney disease. Also, the frequent use of diuretic drugs lowers the calcium level.
Children in growth phases and pregnant or breastfeeding women have an increased need for calcium and should therefore pay particular attention to adequate care.
Need and overdose of calcium
For example, calcium is found in milk and dairy products, as well as in wholemeal bread, vegetables and nuts. The daily requirement of a healthy adult is around 1, 000 milligrams.
Of these, according to a recommendation of the Federal Institute for Risk Assessment (BfR) a maximum of 500 milligrams daily should be supplied by dietary supplements.
Magnesium - not only in calf cramps
About 25 to 30 milligrams of magnesium are contained in our body. It is important for the strength of the bones, the function of the nervous system as well as for the skeletal and cardiac musculature. In addition, it supports about 300 enzymes in their daily work, such as the construction of our genetic material, DNA.
Causes and consequences of a deficient magnesium supply
Magnesium deficiency can have many causes: malnutrition, alcohol abuse, abuse of laxatives, severe diarrhea or vomiting, certain hormonal imbalances, kidney disease or liver cirrhosis.
The consequences are, for example, muscle twitching or cramps, gastrointestinal complaints, heart problems, menstrual cramps or headaches. Pregnancy can cause premature labor.
Too much magnesium is harmful
Too much magnesium is also harmful, leading to nausea and vomiting, constipation or diarrhea. Our daily requirement of about 300 to 400 milligrams can usually be easily met by food. Especially legumes, wholegrain bread, cheese and milk as well as chocolate contain a lot of magnesium.
Pregnant and breastfeeding women can more easily cover their increased needs of up to 390 milligrams with appropriate magnesium supplements, which a doctor should recommend.
In order not to exceed the recommended daily dose, according to the BfR a maximum of 250 milligrams of magnesium should be taken daily via dietary supplements - the rest is usually taken with the food.
Sodium - always in balance with potassium
Our body contains about 100 grams of sodium, which together with potassium regulates the water content and the distribution of water in our organism and plays an important role in the transmission of signals between nerve and muscle cells. A lack of sodium can lead to weakness, low blood pressure, muscle cramps and impaired consciousness.
Our body is usually supplied with sufficient sodium by the salt in our food, the daily requirement is around 1500 milligrams. The more common problem is more of an oversupply that disturbs the balance between sodium and potassium. This can affect a variety of metabolic processes.
What can I do myself?
In addition to a balanced diet, mineral supplements, possibly in combination with vitamins, can provide a balanced balance. After a particularly heavy physical and sweaty load, special electrolyte drinks can restore the fluid and mineral balance.
Even with violent diarrhea or vomiting, it is important to re-supply the body with the missing electrolytes such as sodium or potassium, for this there are also special preparations.
If you are not sure if you are well-fed and have enough minerals, your doctor or pharmacist can help you.