Boning Up on Calcium
Calcium is an essential mineral required by the body to perform numerous functions, especially building strong osteoporosis-resistant bones. The body gets calcium from food. If your body doesn't get the required amount of calcium from food, your bones become fragile and brittle, making them prone to fracture. Thus calcium is required to keep your bones strong and healthy. Adequate calcium consumption is needed to build strong bones, reduce risk of osteoporosis and optimise bone mass.
Consuming enough calcium in your diet will help in keeping your blood pressure normal. Contrarily, severe deficiency of calcium or vitamin D is often the cause for rickets and osteomalacia in children and adults, simultaneously.
Good Sources of Calcium
The National Academy of Sciences suggests consumption of at least 1,000 mg of calcium for people between 19 and 50 years of age as well as pregnant or lactating women and 1,200 mg for those over 51 years.
- Calcium foods- bread, orange juice, soy beverages, cereal and tofu products
- Dairy products- milk, yogurt and cheese
- Green leafy vegetables- broccoli, beans, brussel sprouts, kale, collards, mustard greens, spinach
At least 72% of calcium needed by the body comes from dairy products. Drinking a glass of milk instantly increases calcium intake. Research reveals that those who regularly drink milk get 80% more calcium than those who do not. Though calcium in non-dairy products, such as soya milk and orange juice is not absorbed as well as that in dairy products, these are still significant sources of calcium for people who don't take dairy products.
How To Retain Calcium in Your Body
Since calcium is vital for bone development, it is critical to keep it there by:
In the bones, calcium tends to dissolve in the bloodstream and passes into the urine through the kidneys. If you consume too much salt or sodium, this can significantly increase calcium loss through the kidneys. Limiting your daily sodium intake to 1-2 grams will help you hold onto calcium better. Try to avoid eating too much sodium-rich canned foods and salty snacks.
- Eating plants for protein
Vegan diets help better in reducing calcium losses than animal food. While animal protein derived from eggs, poultry, fish, red meat and dairy products leaches calcium from bones and encourages draining out of the body through urine, plant protein is not linked to any such effect. High level of protein in your diet may cause calcium wasting.
Vitamin D is essential for calcium absorption. If you are suffering from a condition causing vitamin D deficiency, you are at a greater risk of developing a deficiency of calcium as well. Calcium deficiency causes removal of calcium from the bones and passing to other parts where the body where it needs it to help with digestion, regulate division of cells and maintain enough blood circulation. Most of the vitamin D in the body is the direct result of exposure to sunlight, so you can reduce calcium deficiency by sitting in the sun regularly or eating calcium-rich foods.