Most of us don’t get the daily calcium that we need. This vital nutrient is necessary in order to give you a balanced diet that meets your body’s needs. If you’re an adult under 50 years old, you need to be getting at least 1,000 milligrams per day. If you’re not getting that, you’re putting yourself at serious risk for bone breaks, cavities and osteoporosis.
Why You Need Calcium
Calcium is the most abundant mineral in your body. Your bones are made up entirely of calcium and almost all of the calcium that you take in (around 99%) goes to your bones and teeth. Just like the milk commercials say, it promotes healthy bones and teeth. It’s like the concrete that holds your bones together. Calcium is constantly being added to the cells in your bones and teeth to strengthen them, and this is why it’s so important for kids.
Calcium is also used in the blood. This calcium (the remaining 1%) allows your muscles to contract properly, and this includes your heart muscles. It also helps your nerves transmit information through their fibers, which is important for many different bodily functions.
The Most Calcium-Rich Foods
Dairy. By far, dairy provides you the most calcium of any other type of food. Skim milk is slightly higher in calcium levels than whole milk. Yogurt and cottage cheese also have high levels. Other types of cheese are great sources of calcium but this depends on the specific type of cheese. Parmesan and Romano are the highest, followed by mozzarella, Swiss, cheddar and goat cheese.
Tofu. Tofu has high levels of calcium as well as protein. It’s also very low in calories. Tofu offers a great non-dairy source of calcium for vegans who don’t eat any animal or vegetable products.
Vegetables. Leafy green vegetables are excellent sources of calcium. At the top of the list is spinach, followed by collard greens and broccoli. Seaweed, a stable of Asian diets that is growing in popularity in the West, is also excellent. Kelp and kale are both great seaweed sources of calcium.
Fish. There are lots of fish that offer great non-dairy sources of calcium. The highest of these are salmon and sardines. Fish paste and fish oil also contain high levels.
Calcium-Fortified Food And Drink. Foods and drinks that are fortified with calcium also make great choices. These include breakfast cereals, orange juice, soy milk, oatmeal, bread and drink mixes such as Carnation Instant Breakfast and Pediasure.
Other calcium rich foods include sesame seeds, okra, almonds, rhubarb, oranges, figs and white beans.
Make sure that you’re eating well and getting all the calcium you need. Go for a balanced diet that includes as many of these calcium rich foods as possible. With the right minerals and vitamins in your diet, you can stave off illnesses and ensure that your body is strong and healthy for many years to come.