Finding Calcium: More Than Just Milk

Calcium is the mineral responsible for hardening and strengthening bones.  The body also uses calcium for heart, blood, muscle, and nerve function.

Our bodies are unable to make calcium, so they rely on adequate calcium intake. If adequate calcium is not provided, the body has no alternative other than to take stored calcium from the bones and use it to function. When this happens, bones become weak. In fact, the entire body’s ability to function is compromised. 3

The current recommendation for calcium intake is 1:

  • 1,000 milligrams per day for women 19-50
  • 1,000 milligrams per day for men 25-65
  • 1,500 milligrams per day for pregnant or lactating women
  • Postmenopausal women less than age 65, NOT on estrogen replacement therapy: 1,500 milligrams of calcium per day.
  • 1,500 milligrams of per day for men over 65

It is estimated that 55% of men and 78% of women over age 20 in the U.S. do not get enough calcium in their diet. 2

Adequate intake of the mineral calcium is crucial, but so is creating a healthy environment within the body so calcium stays in the bones. Good nutrition, complete with optimal intake of vitamins and minerals, exercise, and lifestyle habits that do not rob the body of nutrients are essential for vibrant health and longevity.

Finding Calcium in Veggies & Beans

Carefully selecting high quality, calcium-rich plant and animal-based foods ensures the recommendations are met and bone density remains strong throughout life.

The most nutritious calcium rich foods are greens and beans. Greens are full of easily absorbed calcium. High calcium green vegetables and leafy greens include broccoli, Brussel sprouts, kale, bok choy, collards, turnip greens, and mustard greens.4

Spinach contains a large amount of calcium but tends to hold onto it firmly, making it harder for the body to absorb. 4

Baked beans, chickpeas, tofu, and other beans provide ample amounts of calcium. Beans also contain magnesium, a mineral which the body uses alongside calcium to build strong bones. 4

Finding Calcium in Proteins

Protein helps protect and strengthen bones. Eating enough to maintain bone density and lean muscle mass is imperative to bone health, body strength, and longevity.

Bone-in fish like salmon, mackerel, and sardines provide protein, plus anti-inflammatory omega-3s, and bioavailable calcium. 4

In sum, strong healthy bones provide the foundation for a long, healthy life. Enact these nutrition and lifestyle habits now. It is easier to maintain what you have than to introduce drastic interventions later.

About the Writer

Kelley Rakow, Health and Lifestyle Coach

Sources:

  1. https://consensus.nih.gov/1994/1994optimalcalcium097html.htm
  2. National Institute of Health
  3. https://www.merckmanuals.com/professional/endocrine-and-metabolic-disorders/electrolyte-disorders/overview-of-disorders-of-calcium-concentration
  4. https://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/Calcium-Consumer/

Information presented by W(h)ealth should not be relied upon to determine diet, make a medical diagnosis, or determine treatment for a medical condition. The information is not intended to replace a one-on-one relationship with a qualified health care professional and is not intended as medical advice. Consult a doctor and/or medical professional before making any health changes, especially any changes related to a specific diagnosis or condition.

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