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Calcium and its benefits

Calcium is an essential mineral that is required by our body to maintain strong, healthy bones and carry out many important bodily functions. Because of our hectic schedules and ignorance of nutrients, we often do not get enough of it from food neither we have proper knowledge of which calcium rich foods to eat. Therefore, in order to increase the intake of calcium in the body and avoid calcium deficiency, let us discover some of the most calcium rich foods sources.

What all Calcium does?

Calcium plays an important role in muscle contraction, building strong bones and teeth, blood clotting, nerve impulse, transmission, regulating heartbeat and fluid balance within cells.

It helps promote weight loss and avoids hormonal imbalance and Premenstrual Syndrome (PMS) symptoms in women. Calcium may help prevent dangerous cancerous diseases also, helps prevent chances of heart diseases.

Hence, it is important to maintain the right amount of calcium in one’s diet.

Calcium is not produced by the body, but the right amount of calcium rich foods is going to help build calcium in the body. Thus, it is important to make it a part of our routine diet.

 How Much Calcium Do You Need?

In a day, 500 mg of calcium is recommended (depending on one’s current medical condition). Adults can take up to 1000 mg of calcium (only under supervision). It is not advisable to combine calcium rich foods and supplements to avoid excess calcium in the body.

Physical activities increase the need for calcium. You may need to take care with your calcium intake especially if you are working out. Vitamin D, the sunshine vitamin, controls your body’s use of calcium. About 15 minutes of early morning sunlight on your skin each day normally produces all the vitamin D you need (mostly before 11am). The Recommended Dietary Allowance is 600 IU (5 micrograms) per day. Try to take your vitamin D supplements with fats / glass of warm milk for better absorption.

 Calcium get deposited in our bones and teeth. In cases of insufficient amount of calcium, the body starts to borrow calcium stored in the bones. This further results to fragile bones or may even lead to bone loss over a period. Please note that iron impacts calcium absorption so do not take your iron and calcium supplements together.

 Sources of calcium

The different calcium rich foods you can incorporate into your diet to reach your daily recommended amount of calcium.

  • Dairy products: Milk, curd, cheese, paneer and buttermilk. Parmesan cheese is rich in calcium and at the same time it also has fat in it, so one must practice moderation here.
  • Green leafy vegetables: Spinach, colacasia, amaranth, fenugreek and broccoli is the topper. Green leaves of Colocasia area source of β-carotene, ascorbic acid, folic acid, riboflavin, vitamin B, vitamin A and minerals like iron, calcium, potassium, phosphorus, magnesium. Spinach as we know is a powerhouse of nutrients so is amaranth and fenugreek.
  • Other Vegetables: Celery, Brussels Sprouts, Beetroot, Kale, Cabbage, Cauliflower, Mustard Greens, Carrots, Bhindi, Zucchini, Asparagus, Cucumber, Sweet Potatoes, Radish, Lettuce
  • Whole cereals: Ragi
  • Sprouts like moong, moath beans, chana, matki, kulith, masoor. Sprouting grains and legumes reduces the number of anti-nutrients, which helps in the absorption of protein and minerals, such as iron, zinc, calcium, magnesium and manganese. Brussels sprouts is a source of calcium. Calcium is important for bone strength and growth.
  • Nuts and oilseeds: Almonds, peanuts, walnuts, sesame seeds, chia seeds, flax seeds are very good sources of calcium. A handful of nuts and some mixed seeds should be a must in a person’s daily diet.
  • Fish, eggs and meat products: Sardines, clams, lobsters and salmon are some of the fish which provides good amount of calcium.
  • Fruits that are rich in calcium need to be consumed, calcium-fortified orange juice, prickly pears, tangerines, oranges, kiwifruit, mulberries, blackberries, guavas, papaya, and passion fruit.
  • Figs- Lot of people are lactose intolerant. In this case, what come to help are non-dairy calcium foods. Figs or anjeer are also rich in calcium. Figs are a good source of calcium.

 Other tips for building strong bones

Minimizing intake of below foods and other substances that deplete your body’s calcium stores.

  • Salt- too much salt can lead to calcium loss and bone breakdown. Packaged and convenience foods, fast foods, and processed meats which are often high in sodium are advised to be avoided. Alternatives for salt are herbs and spices to enhance the taste of food.
  • Caffeine- More than 2 cups of coffee a day are not recommended and can lead to calcium loss.
  • Alcohol- Alcohol inhibits calcium absorption and disrupts your body’s calcium balance in several ways. Excessive consumption of alcohol affects the balance of calcium, an essential nutrient for healthy bones. Calcium interferes with the production of vitamin D, a vitamin essential for calcium absorption.
  • Soft drinks- to be able to balance the phosphates in soft drinks, the body absorbs calcium from your bones, which is then excreted. Instead of soft drinks, water or calcium-fortified orange juice is recommended.
  • Don’t smoke- Smokers lose calcium, too. Absorption of calcium is necessary for vital cellular functions and bone health, which decreases due to smoking. Smoking also affects the balance of hormones.

The intake of calcium is essential to live a fuss-free life. You can also plan a calcium-rich meal using the listed food groups with medical/dietetic guidance.

Now, since we’re aware of calcium-rich foods, make them a part of your diet, but in moderation. As you know that excess of anything is bad for the body and an overdose of these would only do more harm than good to your body. So, make few wise choices and steer clear of calcium deficiency.

 Hope this article has given you all that you wanted to know about calcium-rich foods. Strengthen your bones, boost your heart health and stay fit and lead a fuss-free life with calcium

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