Calcium is one of the most important minerals in the body and plays several important roles. The building blocks of a healthy diet rely on the quality of the food you are digesting. Foods that are rich in calcium play a vital role in maintaining the circulatory and osteo systems in your body.
Poor intake of vitamins and minerals, like calcium, can leave the overall structure of your body weakened and vulnerable. Making sure the foods you are eating contain quality nutrients like Calcium is an essential part of leading a healthy lifestyle.
Calcium is an important factor in:
- Maintaining strong bones
- Nerve transmission
- Blood clotting
- Regulating heart and muscle function
- Regulating cell electroconductivity
Adequate intake of calcium is needed for optimal gains in bone mass and density. Inadequate calcium intake can lead to osteoporosis, which is defined as the thinning and deterioration of bone tissue, with loss of calcification and bone density – this leads to increased risk of a fracture.
Bones grow rapidly during childhood and adolescence, which makes it important to maximize calcium retention and bone density during these years as bones are most sensitive to diet and physical activity then. The female athlete trial is defined as a combination of three factors: disordered eating, ammenorhea and osteoporosis, leads to risk of fracture.
There is an increase in need for calcium during growth, pregnancy, lactation or exercise resulting in high bone density to enhance calcium absorption.
Strenuous physical activity in addition to sweating increases the loss of dermal calcium, which occurs in the form of sweat and skin exfoliation. Make sure to meet your calcium needs on a daily basis to prevent calcium loss.
Below are the Dietary References Intake for Calcium for Males and Females to aim for:
- 14-18 yo; 1300 mg/day
- 19+; 1000 mg/day
- 51-70 women; 1200 mg/day
- 51-70 men; 1000 mg/day
- 71+ men and women; 1200 mg/day
Dairy calcium sources:
- Cottage cheese
- Frozen yogurt
- Ice cream
Non-dairy calcium sources:
- Dark green leafy vegetables (i.e., kale, collards, turnip greens, mustard greens)
- Fortified foods; orange juice, soy milk, nut milk or rice milk
Low vitamin D or sun exposure decreases calcium absorption -your body needs vitamin D to absorb calcium. Taking a vitamin D supplement is recommended to help enhance calcium absorption if vitamin D deficient. It may also be beneficial to take vitamin D supplement regardless of a deficiency due to lack of sun exposure in the Northeast.
The Nutritionists at Behavioral Nutrition are available to help individuals find the best ways to make sure they’re getting the nutrients they need. We start with analyzing your diet to find places where it can be improved and use a holistic approach to find diet changes that you’ll be able to maintain. Our Nutritional Therapists understand that everyone is different and work hard to customize plans that will work for each one of our clients. Contact Behavioral Nutrition today to learn more about how we can help practice healthy eating habits that work for you.