Calcium is one of the most important nutrients for your health. Actually, it is the most represented mineral in the human body. Most of the calcium in our bodies can be found in our teeth and bones while the rest is contained in body tissues, nerve cells, blood, and other bodily fluids. It is clear that it plays a major role in maintaining your bones, keeping your teeth strong, and preventing osteoporosis. Because of that, it is crucial for you to intake the proper levels of this mineral. The first sources of calcium that cross your mind are probably dairy products, but there are several food sources that contain this precious mineral. Now, let us see just how much calcium you actually need and where to get it from.
Recommended Calcium Intake
Now, the key is not excessive intake of calcium, but to consume it in moderation. Some studies are suggesting that too much calcium can lead to a stroke or heart attack. The condition of too much calcium in the blood is called hypercalcemia. This is a rare condition that can lead to kidney issues. To avoid these possible complications, you should consume the proper amount of calcium according to your age. Children should (depending on their age) consume less than 1,300 mg of calcium per day. The recommended amount for adults younger than 50 is 1,200 mg. Men older than 50 and younger than 70 should consume 1,000 mg. Women of the same age should consume 1,200 mg. For people older than 70 that amount should be 1,200 mg.
Multiple Sources of Calcium
It is widely known that dairy products are very rich in calcium. There are, however, many other food sources of this important mineral.
- Dairy products- When consuming any dairy product, you should have the percentages of fat on your mind. Whole milk (4%) is advised for children ages 1 to 2 while older kids and adults should consume low-fat (1% or 2%) and other dairy products. Milk is also a great source of vitamin D, magnesium, and phosphorus, which are essential for your overall health. Excellent dairy sources of calcium for adults are yogurt, buttermilk, and most cheeses. The best thing about them is that they come in low-fat or fat-free versions as well.
- Other natural sources of calcium- If you do not consume a lot of dairy products or simply are on a vegan diet, you should compensate that lack of calcium with green leafy vegetables (collards, kale, broccoli, turnip greens, mustard greens, Chinese cabbage, and bok choy), sardines, salmon, nuts (brazil nuts, almonds), tahini, dried beans, blackstrap molasses, etc.
- Food products with calcium- Calcium is added to some food products, such as certain types of bread, orange juice, tofu, soy milk, and cereals.
- Dietary supplements- Sometimes it is hard to get a sufficient amount of calcium, especially if you are lactose intolerant, follow a vegan diet, have osteoporosis, or any digestive issues which are decreasing your ability to absorb calcium. In those cases, it is recommended to take osteoporosis supplements that are rich in calcium. Dietary supplements do not have to contain only calcium, but they can also be rich in other nutrients too, such as vitamin D.
Simple Ways to Increase Your Calcium Consumption
If you are not planning to drink a glass of milk every day, you should find alternative ways to consume calcium. Adding milk to your morning coffee or tea is one of them. You can make yogurt smoothies or add beans to pasta, chili, and soup dishes. Another option is to use plain yogurt as a vegetable dip or stir some nuts into it. You could also grate low-fat cheese over salads and soups, or swap unhealthy potato chips with healthy and calcium packed broccoli. Finding other interesting ways to use calcium sources in your everyday diet isn’t as hard as you think.
You must not ignore the importance that calcium has on your teeth, bones, and overall health. Since our bodies do not produce calcium, it has to rely on our diets to meet its needs. Do not let your body down.