Calcium is the most abundant mineral in your body, but you also lose it every day through your skin, nails, hair, sweat, urine and feces—and our bodies cannot produce new calcium on their own. If you don’t get enough for your body’s needs, calcium is taken from your bones, causing osteoporosis.
Calcium plays many vital roles in your body, including:
- building healthy bones and teeth and keeping them strong as you age,
- sending messages through the nervous system,
- maintaining healthy blood vessels,
- regulating blood pressure,
- preventing insulin resistance (which could lead to Type 2 diabetes),
- helping your blood clot, and
- regulating your heart’s rhythm.
Obviously, if you want to enjoy good health, you need to make sure you have enough calcium in your diet. And once you understand the basics, it’s not that hard to include it in your diet and get the calcium you need.
Supplements vs. Food
Your body can absorb more calcium from food than it can from supplements, so your calcium intake should come primarily from the food you eat. People who get most of their calcium from food have stronger bones.
Calcium from food often comes with other beneficial nutrients that help calcium do its job, like Vitamin D.
Doctors advise that you get as much of your daily calcium needs from food as possible and use supplements only to make up any shortfall. Older women who get high amounts of calcium from supplements seem to have a higher risk of kidney stones and strokes. And using high-dose calcium supplements may increase your risk of heart disease.
How much calcium is right for you?
The healthiest or safest amount of dietary calcium hasn’t been definitively established. Different scientific approaches have yielded different estimates. To ensure that 95 percent of the population gets this much calcium, the National Academy of Sciences established the following recommended intake levels:
- Age 19 to 50: 1,000 milligrams/day
- Age 50 or over: 1,200 milligrams/day
- Pregnant or lactating adult women 1,000 milligrams/day
Good food sources of calcium
So what foods can you eat to get enough calcium in your diet? You probably know about dairy products, like milk, yogurt, and cheese, but here are some unexpected sources:
- White Beans
- Canned Salmon
- Dried Figs
- Bok Choy
- Blackstrap Molasses
- Black-eyed Peas
- Turnip Greens
- Sesame Seeds
At Chouchani, Sayegh and Bagnarello, we believe in supporting the total health of our patients and our community. If you have any questions about your dietary or nutritional needs, we’d be happy to help. Contact us anytime at any of our three convenient WNY locations.