Calcium plays major roles in the body to help it grow strong and stay healthy. Calcium makes sure our bones and teeth are strong, it helps protect against high blood pressure, and it also aids in heart, muscle, and nerve functions. Studies show it is important to build up calcium stores early in life to help ward off the chance of developing osteoporosis or osteomalacia later in life. Osteoporosis occurs when the body loses too much bone, makes too little bone, or both. The bones become weak and can break from something as simple as a sneeze. Osteomalacia is the softening of bones, which is caused by severe vitamin D and calcium deficiency. Both can be prevented by obtaining adequate amounts of calcium and vitamin D.
Pregnancy and Calcium:
Calcium plays a big role during pregnancy as well as making sure baby’s bones and teeth are well developed and strong. Calcium helps grow a healthy heart for baby, as well as nerves and muscles. If a mother doesn’t consume enough calcium during her pregnancy, the baby will take calcium from the mother, which can cause problems for mother’s bones and teeth later in life. During the last three months of pregnancy, it is SUPER important to make sure you are consuming adequate amounts of calcium. During the last trimester of pregnancy, baby’s teeth are developing and bones need strengthening. Calcium can also reduce mom’s risk of developing hypertension and preeclampsia.
So what if you are lactose intolerant or just don’t like milk, cheese, or yogurt? Well guess what, calcium is found in a number of different foods, such as kale, dates, oranges, broccoli, and fortified cereals and breads. Baked beans are high in calcium. One cup has about 154 milligrams of calcium. Canned salmon contains about 181 mg of calcium, on top of also being an excellent source of omega-3 fatty acids! Also, a cup of oatmeal, a cup of kale, and a cup of raw bok choy all contain about 100 mg of calcium.
Although there are other sources, milk, cheese, and yogurt will still be the top runners in rich calcium foods. One cup of skim milk provides 300 milligrams of calcium. Yogurt provides about 415 mg of calcium per one cup and about 1 ounce of American cheese provides 174 mg of calcium. Milk fortified with vitamin D is the best way to get calcium since vitamin D helps the body absorb calcium. You can get vitamin D from egg yolks, pork, yogurt, and even direct sun on your skin.
Recommended Dietary Allowances for Calcium:
|0-6 months||200 mg||200 mg|
|7-12 months||260 mg||260 mg|
|1-3 years||700 mg||700 mg|
|4-8 years||1,000 mg||1,000 mg|
|9-13 years||1,300 mg||1,300 mg|
|14-18 years||1,300 mg||1,300 mg||1,300 mg||1,300 mg|
|19-50 years||1,000 mg||1,000 mg||1,000 mg||1,000 mg|
|51-70 years||1,000 mg||1,200 mg|
|71+ years||1,200 mg||1,200 mg|
There are many ways to include calcium in your every day diet! If you don’t like eating yogurt plain, add it to a smoothie! Pair yogurt with a cup of kale and fruit and you will have a yummy treat that will give you roughly over 500 mg of calcium. Experimenting with different foods is a fun way to try new things but also get the nutrients you need.