Calcium is the most abundant mineral in the body. It is also highly needed for our body to function properly. Fortunately, most of our everyday diet consists of foods high in calcium. Calcium rich foods can be found among dairy products, vegetables and fruits and even the grains we take every day. Eating good sources of calcium help build strong bones and teeth. It also supports muscles and nerve function. Calcium allows blood to clot normally and the heart to beat normally.
How Does The Body Get Calcium?
Note that the human body does not produce calcium by itself. It mostly relies on calcium rich foods for a steady supply. In other words, the body gets the calcium it needs in two ways. Firstly is by eating calcium rich foods or taking calcium supplements.
What Happens If I Have Insufficient Calcium In My Body?
After eating, the human body stores excess of its calcium, in the bone, blood, muscle, and other tissues. Studies suggest that the human body stores 99% of its calcium in the bones, and the remaining 1% is found in blood, muscle, and other tissues. Thus, once there is an inadequate supply of calcium, the body begins to tap from the calcium stored in the bone. This will lead to a shortage of calcium in the bone which results in a decrease in bone mass. Therefore having low levels of calcium and bone mass can cause bone conditions such as osteoporosis, fractures and rickets. Calcium deficiency can also increase your risk for high blood pressure and result in the growth of weak teeth.
Top Sources of Calcium You Should Be Taking
Dairy foods are most of the highest sources of calcium. Different forms of dairy foods include milk, cheese and yoghurt. Dairy products are believed to have a wide range of health effects on the body. For example, an ounce of cow milk (about a cup full) contains about 250mg of calcium. It is also advised to go for cow milk because non-cow milk and other milk alternatives have lesser calcium compared to cow milk.
Below is a list of dairy products you should be including in your food menu.
- Cow Milk and fortified milk products
- Soy milk
- Ice cream
Vegetables and Fruits
Some plants also contain a high amount of calcium. Green leafy vegetables and legumes such as kale and broccoli contain highly absorbable calcium and many other healthful nutrients.
- Bok Choy
- Brussels sprouts
More so, fruit sources of calcium include: Pears, tangerines, oranges, kiwifruit, mulberries, blackberries, guavas. You can also turn to calcium-fortified orange or apple juices as a concentrated source of calcium, especially during leisure.
Foods With Calcium Are:
- Figs (dried)
- Dried beans
Nuts and Seeds
Nuts and seeds are especially good for vegetarians who wish to fortify their food with calcium. They could make a crunchy treat and even be ground and mixed with smoothies or into other foods.
High nuts source of calcium are:
- Sesame seeds
- Sunflower seed kernels
- Sesame seeds
- Chia seeds.
Should I Take A Calcium Supplement?
Firstly, the amount of calcium you will need from a health supplement depends on how much calcium you are eating from your food. Research suggests that taking a very high amount of calcium at one time, particularly from a supplement, can lower the absorption of the mineral.
So, if you are unsure about how much calcium you are getting from the diet, consult with a registered dietitian. This way, if you are eating a very high calcium diet like dairy milk or fortified milk, cheese, tofu, etc. your doctor can estimate that amount into your calcium prescription.
More so, a Calcium supplement could be a proper option if you have limited access to calcium rich food or think you are not getting enough calcium in your diet.
Osteoporosis and bone degenerative patients can strengthen their bones by taking enough calcium supplement into their body.
Basic Tips before you buy a Calcium Supplements
Note that there are two types of calcium supplements on the market. They come in form of calcium carbonate and calcium citrate.One calcium carbonate tablet typically contains 500-600 mg elemental calcium. While a calcium citrate supplement contains between 200-300 mg of calcium.Popular Supplements like the Caltrate Bone Health Supplement is a type of calcium carbonate.The recommended dosage for adults between 1,000-1,200 mg daily, depending on age. This means that If you are taking a 500mg or 600mg supplement, you can take one with breakfast and then again at night with dinner.
Finally, note that is unhealthy to take calcium and iron supplements at the same time. Also, excess salt intake can reduce calcium in the body. Avoid salty snack foods and canned goods with salt as much as possible.