Calcium is an essential mineral for the development and maintenance of bones. Calcium intake not only regulates nerve function, also contributes to muscle contraction and heart function.
How much calcium should we take?
It is always important to take an adequate amount of calcium, no matter how old you are. Calcium requirements vary throughout life, but it is of vital importance for certain ages. Calcium intake is required the most during childhood and adolescence and its function is to meet the demands of rapid growth. Pregnant and lactating women also need higher calcium intake.
Post menopausal every women has higher calcium requirements as to maintain minimum bone loss.
Over the time, the proper absorption of calcium can help prevent the development of osteoporosis, a disease that causes loss of bone substance and that affects millions of both sexes. Osteoporosis weakens bones , causing them to break easily. The disease can progress silently until a bone breaks suddenly.
Primary sources of calcium
- The primary sources of calcium are dairy products like milk, yoghurt and cheese. It is advisable to reduce the consumption of fat, so try to choose lower-fat dairy products, low-fat or non-fat products for adults and children over two years.
- Other sources are vegetables with dark green leaves as broccoli, kale, sardines and salmon with bones, calcium-fortified fruit juices, soy milk, breakfast cereal or tofu with calcium.
- To make better use of calcium-rich foods you should eat foods fortified with vitamin D. Examples of foods fortified with vitamin D include milk, some cereals and juices. Vitamin D requires sunlight to help your body absorb calcium from food depositing in bones and teeth.
- Physical exercises like weight lifting also help to strengthen bones. The regular physical activity such as walking, running, dancing, tennis, golf (without the cart) and even gardening help to maintain strong bones.
Look at the fat and calories contained in foods
When you go for shopping, read food labels and select the one that provides greater amounts of vitamins and minerals and contains acceptable amounts of calories. As for calcium, look for foods containing 10 percent or more of the Daily Value (DV) of calcium required. Foods with a higher content of calcium or calcium-fortified may be labelled as “rich in calcium” or “excellent sources of calcium.”
Maximize the calcium intake in your meals and snacks:
- Try yoghurt sprinkled with crunchy cereal for breakfast.
- Sprinkle grated cheese on a bagel or tortilla and heat to melt the cheese.
- Add to your menu a bowl of breakfast cereal with milk.
- Look for products “high in calcium” or “excellent source of calcium.”
- Enjoy a glass of chocolate milk or a latte as a stimulant drink in the afternoon.
- Put bread enriched with calcium in your purse. It is a source of calcium which is easy and portable.
- If you can not tolerate dairy products (has trouble digesting the sugar in milk), look for lactose-free milk.
- In addition to the multitude of green leafy vegetables, calcium-fortified select, such as fruit juices, soy milk, cereals, food etc.
Autotest: How much calcium are you taking?
Do you include two or more servings of milk, yoghurt, cheese in your daily diet?
Do you select calcium-fortified products, such as fruit juices, cereals or grains?
When you shop, would you bother to read food labels to find those with a high calcium content?
Does your plan of physical activities include weight lifting exercises?
Do you include in your plan regular feeding fish with bones, tofu processed with calcium and green leafy vegetables?
If most of your answers are “Yes,” you are on track to meet your calcium requirements. Follow this wave!
But if most of your answers are “No”, it is likely that you are not consuming adequate amounts of calcium. Use the given tips to maximize daily calcium intake.
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