Calcium is a mineral that is vital for life. Ninety-nine percent of the calcium in our body is found in the bones and teeth. The other one percent is circulated through the blood stream aiding in the contraction of muscles, especially the heart. It also aids in the secretion of hormones and enzymes. We probably don’t even think about this mineral until our bodies don’t have enough and over time, we start having problems. Not enough calcium can lead to osteoporosis and bone loss. The FDA recommends that adult consumers consume 1,000 milligrams of calcium per day, based on a 2,000 calorie a day diet. Adolescents, especially girls, should get 1,300 mg a day. And post-menopausal women should get 1,200 mg a day. So how can we get enough calcium? Below are some ways to add calcium in your diet:
Milk is probably the most common known source of calcium. A single serving of milk has 300 mg of calcium. That’s 30% of the recommended daily value. But what if you are lactose intolerant? Calcium-fortified soy milk has just as much calcium as cow’s milk.
Stop drinking soda. Drinking large quantities of this stuff can actually leach calcium from bones and hamper the absorption of calcium.
Go play in the sun! The FDA has recently linked the importance of vitamin D in addition to calcium in the prevention of osteoporosis. Sunlight helps the body absorb vitamin D.
Make Popeye proud. Just half a cup of cooked spinach has 120 mg of calcium. Or try substituting spinach for lettuce when making a sandwich. Have a BST instead.
Eat fish. Salmon, sardines, clams, oysters, blue crab and ocean perch all contain between 180-200 mg of calcium per serving. Not to mention the added benefit of omega-3.
Citrus fruits. While oranges have 75 mg of calcium, an eight ounce glass of orange juice fortified with calcium has 300 mg of calcium. One glass of orange juice can also satisfied the daily allowance for vitamin C. Kiwi fruit and grapefruit also have 75 mg of calcium per serving.
Eat yogurt. One serving of low-fat yogurt contains upwards of 400 mg of calcium. Want a low-fat dessert option? Take a single serving container of fruit on the bottom yogurt and put it in the freezer. Then you will have a tasty frozen treat with fruit on the top! (This is after inverting the contents of the container into a bowl.)
Go nuts. Yes, really. A half cup of almonds have about 150 mg of calcium.
Take an over the counter calcium supplement. Of course, the best way to get calcium is through a food source. But if you feel like you are falling short, you can get an over the counter supplement at your local health or grocery store. Be careful of possible side effects and other drug interactions. For instance, many antacids are fortified with calcium. But you wouldn’t want to take a bunch of them for the calcium because it would wreck havoc on your digestive system.
If you would like more information about the side effects and benefits of calcium supplements, go to www.vitamins-nutrition.org. If you would like to check the nutritional value of the foods you eat, go to www.nutritiondata.com.