The sources of calcium
It is widely acknowledged that calcium is one of the most important minerals for the human body. It is essential for building up and maintaining bones. Humans need it during their whole life. While calcium is found in many products widely available today, the problem of calcium deficiency still exists.
Children and pregnant women are vulnerable to calcium deficiency. Elderly people have less calcium in their body, that is why we should not ignore products rich in calcium when we are young.
Why do we need calcium?
Calcium also plays an important role in metabolic processes but it is not synthesized in our body – we get it from food. Calcium is distributed in blood and extra-cellular liquids penetrating all the tissues. The highest concentration of calcium is found in the teeth and the skeletal system. If our body does not get enough calcium, these organs will have calcium deficiency.
Interestingly, the average human body which is about 70 kg contains nearly 1.000 g of calcium. This is the weight of the bone mass and the bones may lose their elasticity and become very brittle, in case there is not enough calcium in the body. A recommended daily intake of calcium depends on the age of the person:
- babies – 400 mg a day;
- children from 6 to 10 years old – 750-1300 mg a day;
- teenagers – 1200-1500 mg a day;
- people from 24 to 55 years old – 950 mg a day;
- pregnant and feeding women – 1200-1500 mg a day;
- seniors and elderly people over 55 years old – 1500 mg a day.
Make sure that you do not get more calcium than recommended as you have a risk of hypercalcemia which is as dangerous as calcium deficiency. Hypercalcemia may cause kidney, heart and vessels diseases, kidney stones may form.
What are the benefits of calcium? Deficiency of this element makes the nails brittle and teeth sensitive. People with calcium deficiency risk to broke their bones and in the worst scenario, osteoporosis may develop. Evidently, calcium is essential for strong bones and healthy teeth.
Other than this, calcium is responsible for normal functioning of all body organs and systems. It regulates muscle contraction, provides energy within the muscles, improves blood coagulation and controls blood pressure. The calcium we get is distributed among the organs to contribute to many basic body functions.
If there is more calcium, excessive calcium builds up in our bone tissue, electrolyte balance will be disrupted and the organs will “acidify”. On the contrary, if our body does not get enough calcium with food, it will replenish calcium levels taking it from the bones and teeth.
Dairy products are the most notable source of calcium
Milk and dairy products provide you with a recommended intake of calcium if you eat three types of dairy products for three days. This routine will help you to achieve the balance of the elements in your body. Calcium from milk gets in the body with other useful elements making it easily digestible. This is beneficial for the health of the gastrointestinal tract.
What dairy products are the most useful as a source of calcium? First of all, they are:
- Reduced-fat Mozzarella – 680 mg of calcium in 100 g of cheese;
- Cheddar – 600 mg in 100g of cheese;
- Low-fat yogurt – one portion contains 300 g of calcium;
- Low-fat milk – 300 mg in one cup;
- Non-fat milk enriched with vitamins (1% of fat with Vitamins A and D) – 260 mg of Calcium in one portion;
- 2% cottage cheese – 180 mg of calcium in one portion.
As you can see, many products on the list are low-fat or non-fat. Specialists believe that reduced-fat dairy products are better for calcium and protein absorption.
People with lactose intolerance are unable to digest lactose mainly found in dairy products so they can’t get calcium from milk and milk products.
Calcium sources other than milk?
It is widely believed that dairy products should be in everyone’s diet. However, as we have already mentioned, not all people can tolerate lactose and get calcium from dairy products. In this case, their solution is pharmacological products. Those who are opposed to artificial calcium, we recommend to incorporate into their diet the following products:
They contain a lot of useful nutrients including calcium.
- Salmon or tuna.
Other than calcium, you will get omega-3 fatty acids. Eating fish preservatives, your body will get 45% of a recommended daily intake of calcium as you eat not only meat but softened fish bones that are rich in calcium.
They are a great source of Vitamin D, polyunsaturated fatty acids and, of course, calcium.
- Dried figs.
Eat 8 figs and your body will get one-tenth the recommended amount of calcium.
Two portions of shredded cabbage provide you with the fifth of a recommended daily intake of calcium for adults.
Oat cereal is beneficial almost for everyone and gives the fifth of a recommended daily intake of calcium.
- Orange fresh.
It provides 50% of a daily intake of calcium and a variety of vitamins.
- Soy milk.
It is especially beneficial for people with intolerance for cow milk and other milk products. One cup of soy milk provides 30% of calcium, protein, phytic acid, and isoflavonoids.
Any nuts deliver calcium to the human body with almonds being the richest source of this element. Almonds also contain potassium, Vitamin E and iron.
- Grain crispbread.
It is not only good for health but also convenient as you can take this crispbread everywhere with you. You can replace conventional bread with crispbread or use it as an additional ingredient in a variety of dishes.
What can guarantee proper calcium absorption?
As practice shows, it is not that easy to get enough calcium from food. To reach maximum effect, it is desirable to take dietary supplements. Before you start taking supplements, consult your doctor and nutritionist.
Calcium malabsorption may be caused by the following dietary mistakes:
- too much salt as sodium chloride eliminates calcium from the body by urinary way;
- too much protein has the same affect as salt;
- drinking too much cola and coffee reduces the amount of calcium in the body;
- drinking too much carbonated soft drinks as they are a source of phosphates which displace calcium;
- too much fiber slows down calcium absorption in the stomach;
- alcohol abuse – toxins disrupt metabolic pathways and it is directly associated with low bone mass;
- smoking has the same consequences as alcohol abuse;
- certain medications to treat rheumatism, asthma etc. can cause calcium malabsorption.
Everyone should be aware of calcium levels in their body. It is up to you to decide whether to take any calcium supplements or not, anyway don’t forget to consult your doctor first to avoid negative health impacts.