The role of calcium, its benefits, and its sources
Make no bones about it, calcium is essential to good health. This important nutrient is usually associated with building strong bones and teeth, as well as preventing osteoporosis. But, there’s so much more to this mighty mineral than just that. Calcium benefits your body in several important ways. So, how can you tell if you’re getting enough of this essential nutrient? And, when should you start to wonder, “How can I raise my calcium level?” Start by getting a healthy understanding of how calcium benefits your body and what causes deficiency of calcium. Then, gain a better understanding of the recommended intake and learn how you can raise your calcium level with what is the best source of calcium, from foods to calcium supplements.
The essentials of calcium
Calcium is an essential mineral, and they don’t call it essential for nothing. In fact, calcium is the most abundant mineral in your body, with 99% of your body’s calcium stored in your bones and teeth to give them structure and strength. But, you may not be aware that calcium is also essential for nearly every process in your body and a variety of vital functions. Calcium is also considered essential because your body can’t produce it on its own. Luckily, you can feed your body’s needs through foods and calcium supplements.
The many benefits of calcium
Calcium benefits your body in many ways. This mineral is needed for building and maintaining strong bones and teeth. But your bones are just the beginning because calcium benefits everything from your cells and nerves to your weight. Calcium keeps your muscles moving, your blood clotting, your heart beating, and your cells functioning. It also helps control your blood pressure and your weight. And, calcium benefits your overall health, with studies showing that calcium may protect you from chronic diseases like colon cancer, heart disease, and diabetes.
The bare bones on calcium intake
Calcium is crucial throughout your life. Children and adolescents need it to build strong bones. Pregnant and nursing women need it to nourish their babies. And, both men and women need it to deal with aging. The amount of calcium you need depends on your age. Unfortunately, getting too much calcium is as dangerous as getting too little. Too much calcium can interfere with your heart, weaken your bones, cause kidney stones, and affect how your brain functions. Health experts recommend the following average daily intake amounts:
- 1,000 mg for women under age 50 and men under age 70
- 1,200 mg for women over age 50 and men over age 70
- 1,300 mg for teens
- 1,200 mg for pregnant and breastfeeding women
If your body is low on calcium, it will steal it from your bones. This can raise your risk for bone loss and osteoporosis, which is a condition where your bones become brittle and prone to breaking. What causes deficiency of calcium? There are two kinds of calcium deficiency. One is a lack of calcium in your diet and the other is called hypocalcemia, which is a low level of calcium in your blood caused by certain medications, medical treatments, and diseases.
Food for thought on what is the best source of calcium
Your body needs plenty of calcium and there are plenty of nutritious and delicious foods to help you get your fill. To get the most out of the mineral, you need to also get adequate amounts of vitamin D and magnesium to help your body fully absorb the calcium you’re getting. Are you wondering, “How can I raise my calcium level and what is the best source of calcium?” Luckily, the following foods are full of calcium. But now you may be asking, “How can I raise my calcium level if I don’t have the time or energy to eat them every day?” That’s where calcium supplements come in because they can help ‘fill in the gaps’ in your diet. Speak to your SignatureMD-affiliated doctor before taking calcium supplements to see if they’re safe for you. Now, check out the best foods to satisfy your calcium needs:
- Dairy – Milk, cheese, and yogurt are the perfect package of calcium, vitamin D, potassium, and protein.
- Leafy green vegetables – Go green because leafy greens like kale, spinach, and collard greens are excellent sources of calcium and other bone-building nutrients like magnesium, iron, vitamins, and protein.
- Salmon and sardines – These fish are good for your bones because they’re full of calcium.
- Tofu – If you don’t do dairy, what is the best source of calcium? Go for tofu because this soymilk-based source of calcium, magnesium, and protein can help decrease bone loss while increasing bone density.
- Fortified orange juice – This morning mainstay is brimming with calcium—as much as 500 mg is poured into every cup.
- Calcium-fortified cereals – Whether you crunch by the bowlful or munch by the handful, cereals can give you a healthy helping of calcium since several are fortified with as much as 1,000 mg per serving.
With these healthy foods and helpful tips, you can keep your bones and your body going and growing strong.