calcium

Calcium: And What It Means to Your Body

Many people overlook how important calcium is to their diet.  This nutrient is vital to having strong bones and healthy teeth.  Just about every cell in your body consumes calcium, including not only bones and teeth, but also the heart, central nervous system, and even muscles.  Both men and women should incorporate calcium-rich foods in their diet while simultaneously limiting foods that deplete the mineral, such as salt, caffeine, alcohol, and soda.  

It aids in keeping bones and teeth healthy as you age.  Other significant health benefits include helping muscles contract, maintaining blood flow, and regulating heartbeat.  Without enough calcium in your diet, your body will take it from your bones in order to ensure that your cells get the calcium they need to function.  People lacking adequate amounts are at a higher risk for exhaustion, mood swings, depression, anxiety, insomnia, and even osteoporosis.

Osteoporosis is a silent disease that causes bones to be brittle and break.  Due to the weakness in bone density, fracturing bones becomes easier, which can lead to other serious health risks.  One in two women and one in four men over the age of 50 are prone to getting osteoporosis, and it is also the second most common cause of death for women age 60 and above.  While we tend to be well-educated on how critical calcium is for children as their bodies grow and develop, we need to remember to emphasize the value in eating foods that are rich in it no matter our age in order to prolong our health.  

Food is a better source of it than calcium supplements, because the body absorbs it better through food.  Studies have shown that when a person receives it from food, they have stronger bones than those who rely solely on supplements.  In fact, high doses of supplements can increase your exposure to heart disease and kidney issues.  The most popular sources of calcium are milk and dairy products, but these aren’t necessarily the best options.  Whole milk dairy products can be high in saturated fats, whereas the low-fat/non-fat products often contain sugar to make up for the loss in flavor.  Also, the synthetic hormones and antibiotics that are fed to cows can cause them to produce hormones that can lead to breast, prostate, and testicular cancer.  In addition, a portion of the population is lactose-intolerant and experiences discomfort when consuming dairy and their intolerance in many cases can interfere with calcium absorption.

However, there are plenty of other foods besides dairy products that contain the essential nutrient .  Most greens, including kale, asparagus, fresh green peas, broccoli, collard greens, turnip greens, mustard greens, and cabbage are strong sources of calcium.  The majority of green leafy lettuces are good sources as well, such as romaine hearts, butter lettuce, red leafy lettuce, watercress, and endive.  Other foods that can contribute to a healthy calcium intake are canned fish that still contain bones (sardines, anchovies, and pink salmon), oats, nuts, seeds, tofu, and beans.  In conclusion, to keep your bones and teeth healthy, make sure to eat foods that are rich in calcium on a regular basis.

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