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Calcium is an essential mineral that helps maintain healthy bones, blood clots, and teeth. It also plays a critical role in the body’s production of many hormones. Foods high in calcium include dairy products like milk and yogurt, shrimp, salmon, and tofu.
Calcium is a mineral that is needed for strong bones and teeth. It is also important in maintaining healthy blood pressure, muscle contraction, and nerve function. Foods high in calcium include non-dairy sources such as collard greens, kale, broccoli, and almonds.
Calcium is the most prevalent mineral in the body, with over 99 percent of it being stored in the bones and teeth’s structure. The reality is many of us aren’t consuming enough calcium-rich foods. (And don’t worry, it isn’t always about dairy.)
What are the advantages of consuming high-calcium foods? Calcium-rich foods help in bone formation, nerve transmission, cardiac control, muscular contractions, weight management, and preventing calcium shortage. Other vital minerals, such as magnesium, vitamin D, and vitamin K, are required for your body to absorb and utilize calcium efficiently. This is why, rather than taking isolated calcium supplements that aren’t usually absorbed properly, it’s preferable to acquire the calcium you need from genuine food sources, complex food-based supplements in certain situations, or calcium-fortified sources.
You’ll benefit from consuming more calcium in your diet as you become older, if you’re pregnant/nursing, or if you have a disease that depletes calcium. Let’s look at some of the greatest calcium-rich foods, how they promote general health, and how you can incorporate them into dishes.
Calcium’s Function in the Body
Calcium is a soft silver-gray metal present in the human body and is an important chemical element. Calcium is present within specific layers of the Earth’s crust and in the bones and teeth of humans and many other species.
What function does calcium play in the human body? Calcium is stored in the bones and released into the circulation when it is required. On the other hand, calcium is required for much more than bone health. By eating calcium-rich meals, our bodies may accomplish optimum neuron transmission (or “intercellular nerve communication”), blood coagulation, hormone release, and muscular contraction. Another unexpected advantage of calcium-rich foods? They could be able to help you regulate your appetite and lose weight. Calcium meals are thought to increase feelings of pleasure after eating, particularly when someone is on a low-fat diet or lowering their calorie (energy) consumption.
It is closely regulated because blood calcium serves so many important tasks, such as managing your body’s acid/alkaline balance and pH. When calcium is required, the body takes it from the bones. In fact, this occurs so often that the bones are replaced every 10 years or so. Calcium is also necessary for maintaining blood levels of magnesium, phosphorus, and potassium.
How much calcium do you need each day to satisfy your calcium requirements? The following are the recommended daily calcium values, according to the National Institutes of Health:
- 200 mg from birth to 6 months
- 260 mg for infants aged 7–12 months
- 700 mg for children aged 1 to 3 years
- 1,000 mg for children aged 4–8 years.
- 1,300 mg for children aged 9 to 13.
- Teenagers between the ages of 14 and 18, 1,300 mg
- Adults aged 19 to 50, 1,000 mg
- Adult males between the ages of 51 and 70, 1,000 mg
- Adult women between the ages of 51 and 70, 1,200 mg
- Adults aged 71 and up: 1,200 mg
- 1,300 mg for pregnant and nursing teenagers
- Adults who are pregnant or nursing, 1,000 mg
Top 10 Calcium-Rich Foods
When most people hear the word calcium, they instantly think of dairy products, particularly milk. However, while milk and other dairy products are excellent calcium sources, they are not the only ones. You may be surprised to learn that many non-dairy plant and animal-derived foods contain calcium, such as vegetables, fish, nuts, and beans.
Based on calcium content, below are the top 10 foods rich in calcium:
- Sardines are a kind of sardine (canned with bones included) — 569 milligrams per cup (57 percent DV)
- 488 milligrams in 1 cup of yogurt or kefir (49 percent DV)
- Raw Milk in combination with (whey protein, made from milk) — 300 milligrams per cup (30 percent DV)
- 202 milligrams per ounce of cheese (20 percent DV)
- 90.5 milligrams per cup of raw kale (9 percent DV)
- 1 cup of raw okra has 81 milligrams (8 percent DV)
- 74 milligrams per cup of bok choy (7 percent DV)
- 73.9 milligrams per ounce of almonds (7 percent DV)
- Broccoli (raw) — 42.8 milligrams per cup (4 percent DV)
- 1 cup of watercress has 41 milligrams (4 percent DV)
- Enhance Bone health
- Could Aid in Cancer Prevention
- Weight Loss Assist
- Blood Pressure and Heart Health Improvements
1. Enhance Bone Health
Osteoporosis affects more than 10 million persons in the United States, and it is one of the primary causes of fractured bones in the elderly, affecting more women than men. It should come as no surprise that calcium-rich meals promote bone and skeletal health. Calcium may either be supplied to the bone by osteoblasts or removed from bone by osteoclasts, depending on the body’s demands.
“Calcium and vitamin D are vital for creating strong, thick bones while you’re young and maintaining them strong and healthy as you age,” according to the National Osteoporosis Foundation. Calcium is essential when bones reach their maximal density/mass in their teens and early twenties. The higher a person’s peak bone mass is when they are younger, the longer they may avoid osteoporosis or bone loss later in life.
Calcium consumption is still crucial as people become older. Raw/fermented dairy products and leafy green vegetables are good sources of calcium for bone health since they also include minerals like magnesium, potassium, and vitamin K. Unfortunately, many people’s diets are deficient in high-quality calcium items. “There has been substantial dispute regarding whether current recommended calcium intakes are appropriate to achieve peak bone density and to reduce bone loss and fracture risk in later life,” according to the World Health Organization.
2. Can Aid in Cancer Prevention
According to research, consuming calcium-rich foods has been linked to a lower risk of some forms of cancer, particularly colon and rectal cancers. According to the findings of the American Cancer Society’s Cancer Prevention Research II Nutrition Cohort study, men and women who consumed the most calcium via their meals and supplements had a lower risk of colorectal cancer than those who consumed the least calcium.
Calcium pills are not presently recommended to prevent colon cancer due to a lack of evidence, but calcium-rich meals may have the same impact. (Since there’s a relationship between calcium supplements and heart attacks, as well as a possible increased risk of prostate cancer, it’s preferable to receive the mineral through calcium-rich foods.)
3. Assist with weight loss
Certain clinical research has shown a link between increased calcium consumption from calcium-rich foods and reduced body weight. Calcium in the diet is thought to bind to fat in the digestive system, assisting in its excretion and perhaps limiting some fat absorption, so reducing the number of calories that contribute to fat growth.
4. Enhance blood pressure and cardiovascular health
Calcium-rich foods aid in the relaxation of smooth muscle tissues in the veins and arteries. Calcium may also aid in blood clotting prevention and blood pressure reduction. In fact, the DASH diet (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension) suggests a diet rich in calcium-rich foods such as yogurt or kefir to help lower blood pressure. (Note: Studies have shown that the natural fat in dairy products has health advantages; therefore, I always advocate full-fat dairy over low-fat dairy.)
Daily Calcium Requirements
For adult men and women under the age of 50, the recommended daily amount (RDA) for calcium is 1,000 mg per day. For individuals aged 50–70, the RDA rises to 1,200–2,000 mg per day since more calcium is required to preserve aging bones.
Most individuals in many regions of the globe receive less calcium than they need for general health, particularly bone health. Adults in many Asian nations, for example, typically eat dangerously low quantities of dietary calcium, with daily intakes of less than 400 to 500 mg. According to one big research, the average national dietary calcium consumption varied from 175 to 1233 mg per day across 74 nations.
We need a larger quantity of calcium per day than we do for other minerals, making calcium-rich meals essential for a variety of reasons. In fact, our bodies are considered to contain enough calcium to account for 2% of our entire body weight. When you don’t receive enough calcium, what happens? Symptoms and hazards of calcium insufficiency include:
- Osteopenia or osteoporosis are more likely to occur.
- Tooth rotting is a common problem.
- Fractures of the bones
- Tension in the muscles
- Blood pressure that is too high
- Atherosclerosis and hypertension are two conditions that may cause artery hardening.
- Symptoms of PMS
- Kidney and gallstones are more likely to form.
- Heart disease and diabetes are more likely to occur.
- Certain cancers are associated with a higher risk.
Where to Find Them and How to Use Them
- If you can’t eat dairy products because you have lactose intolerance or an allergy to regular dairy, getting adequate calcium-rich non-dairy meals is critical. Almonds, navy beans, black peas, organic edamame/tofu, lime tortillas, sardines, rockfish, clams, seaweed, sesame seeds, sunflower seeds, butternut squash, and sweet potato are some of the greatest dairy-free high-calcium foods.
- Whether you consume dairy or meat, eating a variety of calcium-rich veggies is a fantastic way to receive critical minerals and antioxidants. Broccoli, broccoli rabe, kale, Chinese cabbage, collard greens, okra, Swiss chard, green beans, rapini, carrots, turnip, rhubarb, and watercress are among calcium-rich foods.
- Are there any fruits that are high in calcium? Yes, dried figs and oranges, for example, both contain calcium.
- Full-fat, grass-fed dairy foods (preferably fermented, like yogurt, certain cheeses, or kefir) are a rich source of calcium, vitamin K, phosphorus, and to a lesser extent, vitamin D.
- Make a massive salad with leafy greens, your favorite raw fermented cheese, almonds, and a sesame tahini dressing to consume a lot of high-calcium items all at once.
- Beans, greens, and sweet potatoes are all calcium-rich foods, so make a large quantity of soup (in your crockpot, for example) with them and enough of your favorite herbs and spices.
- Blend cultured yogurt, almond butter, and berries or your favorite fruit to make a smoothie (bonus if you can squeeze in some spinach or greens).
- Remember that magnesium is essential for calcium absorption because these two minerals have such a strong association. Therefore, you’re more likely to have a magnesium shortage if you have a calcium deficiency or imbalance, and vice versa (magnesium deficiency can often be a precursor to calcium imbalance). To get the most out of your calcium, consume foods rich in magnesium on a daily basis, such as leafy greens, chocolate, avocado, and bananas (notice how many of these foods also provide calcium).
If you avoid items that create inflammation, harm your gut health, or interfere with nutrient absorption, you’ll receive the maximum benefit from calcium. For example, foods with added sugar, processed cereals, refined vegetable oils, and synthetic additives should all be avoided.
Are Calcium Supplements Effective?
What form of calcium should you take if you’re concerned about calcium deficiency? Calcium pills, according to research, are not the best way to gain extra calcium since they may have harmful side effects, particularly when used in high amounts and combined with a lack of vitamin D, magnesium, and other essential minerals.
“Most studies reveal minimal evidence of a link between calcium consumption and bone density, or the rate of bone loss,” according to a 2015 research published in the Journal of Internal Medicine. Calcium supplements seem to have a negative risk-benefit relationship and should not be used consistently to prevent or cure osteoporosis.” There may be a relationship between high calcium levels (mainly from supplements) and artery hardening/stiffening, which may contribute to heart disease. High calcium levels may interfere with medications used to treat heart disease, diabetes, epilepsy, and other illnesses and cause kidney stones. As a result, most experts now believe that the best method to receive calcium is via a balanced diet containing various calcium sources.
What brand of calcium supplement should you take if you’re going to take one? Calcium carbonate and calcium citrate are the two most common calcium supplements. If you’re going to take calcium supplements, limit yourself to 500 milligrams at a time since your body won’t be able to absorb much more than that. If you need a higher amount, divide it into several doses throughout the day. Calcium is best absorbed when consumed with food (and make sure you’re not vitamin D or vitamin K deficient!).
What are the effects of too much calcium on the body? It’s doubtful that you’d obtain an excessive quantity of calcium only through diet. In fact, it is thought that most individuals in the United States and many other affluent countries do not consume enough calcium regularly. At extremely high doses — such as those obtained from meals and supplements combined — Calcium might induce unwanted effects. Nausea, bloating, constipation (particularly with calcium carbonate supplements), dry mouth, stomach discomfort, irregular heartbeat, disorientation, and kidney stones are some of the symptoms that might occur.
If consuming dairy foods causes indigestion, diarrhea, or cramping, avoid them and acquire calcium from other sources. You may also discover that raw milk, goat’s milk, or sheep’s milk products are tolerable to you, but regular dairy from most cows is not. If you’re a vegetarian or vegan, obtain your calcium from plants like seaweed, green vegetables, beans, seeds, and leafy greens. If you’ve ever had kidney stones or gallstones, speak to your doctor about how much calcium you should take.
- The most prevalent mineral in the body is calcium, which is mostly stored in the bones and teeth. Building bones, assisting nerve communication, and balancing other minerals are all activities of calcium.
- Calcium is found in the greatest concentrations in raw dairy products and green vegetables in general. Raw milk, yogurt, kefir, fermented cheeses, kale, sardines, broccoli, beans, and almonds are just a few of the calcium-rich foods.
- Protecting against osteoporosis, bone loss, dental decay, heart disease, diabetes, and weight gain are all advantages of consuming calcium-rich foods.
- Calcium should be obtained through calcium-rich meals rather than from supplements. Supplements may be helpful in certain circumstances, but they have not been demonstrated to provide the same level of protection as a well-balanced, nutritious diet.
Frequently Asked Questions
What food is highest in calcium?
A: Milk is the highest in calcium, followed by spinach and kale.
What are 5 benefits of calcium?
A: Calcium is a mineral that plays many important roles in your body, including building and maintaining healthy bones. It can also help prevent heart disease, osteoporosis, high blood pressure, and certain cancers. Additionally, it may reduce the risk of fractures from falls by helping to absorb impact forces during an accident or fall. Another benefit of calcium is its ability to strengthen teeth and bones through estrogen production, which helps protect against osteoporosis later on in life
What are the health benefits of calcium?
A: Calcium is a mineral that helps build strong bones and forms part of the blood clotting mechanism in your body. It also plays a vital role in providing energy for muscles, nerves, glands, and organs like the heart.
- vegetables high in calcium
- calcium-rich foods for bones
- daily calcium requirement by age
- calcium-rich fruits and vegetables
- calcium in milk
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