When the bone composition is considered, it is found that the substance that makes most of the skeletal structure is: calcium. In fact, it is the most abundant mineral in the body being stored in a plentiful amount in the bones. However, interestingly a large chunk of the world population are victims of illnesses that are caused due to lack of calcium!
The benefits that are entailed with calcium cannot be underemphasized as the body requires it to carry out vital functions. It is stored in the bones and is released into the bloodstream when needed. The benefits of calcium go beyond bone health. Even our nervous system is dependent upon this mineral for important neuro-transmissions.
Following are some of the advantages of including calcium in your diet:
- Blood clotting
- Muscle Contraction
- Secretion of certain hormones
- Induce weight loss by boosting the body’s metabolic rate
- Controlling the proportion of other chemical substances in the body like magnesium, potassium, phosphorus
- Keeping the acidity level neutral
What to Include in a Calcium Rich Diet?
The amount of calcium intake that is required by the body varies with age and depends upon other factors like (gender, physical health etc). Nutritionists associated with National Institutes of Health have published a daily dietary calcium intake that requires adults over the age of 19 to 50 to have around 1000mg. The intake will increase to 1200mg for adults over the age of 50 for stronger bone development. Children of the age 9 to 13 will require the most calcium up to 1400 mg to build up endurance and strength. Further to that, women who are breastfeeding will also require a significant amount of this nutrient to make up for milk that is fed to the baby.
One of the biggest misconception people have regarding calcium-rich food items is that dairy products are the best option available. Which is essentially not true. Though dairy items like milk, cheese, yoghurt are healthy contributors of calcium, there are other alternatives which can act as perfect substitutes. It can be particularly helpful for people who are lactose-intolerant and vegans who need help with stronger bone development.
This article will hence focus more on the list of non-dairy items which can provide the body with a significant proportion of calcium
Almonds contain triple the amount of calcium that is required on daily basis. Although rich in fat content as well, most of it is monounsaturated which is considered to be part of the healthy fat group. Nutritionists would however still advise on cutting down almonds to one-quarter of a cup daily to avoid high calories.
Tofu is a bean curd prepared through solidification of soy milk. One of the biggest advantages of including tofu in your daily diet is that it provides with the necessary intake of protein and calcium. The calcium content will, however, depend upon how firm the curd is. Moreover, before buying a Tofu brand, it is important to make sure that calcium salt is listed as an ingredient.
Sunflower Seeds are an excellent source of a wide range of essential nutrients, A bowl of sunflower seed kernel will contain around 110 mg of calcium.
Further to that, seeds also contain a considerable dosage of magnesium and Vitamin E that can aid in the absorption of calcium. Building endurance, sustaining nerve health and increasing bone flexibility make them a prominent calcium-rich food element.
Yet, one should avoid excessive ingestion of sunflower seeds as the high salt content can shoot up blood pressure and increase weight gain \
This green, leafy vegetable is known for its rich fibre content, At the same time, it is loaded with calcium and antioxidants that promote healthy cells growth. One cup of kale approximately provides 200mg of calcium.
Do not confuse them with the famous musical group of the 20th Century! Black-eyed peas can be enjoyed by adding them into soup or ingested directly. It is a rare type of legume that has a range of health-related benefits. Being enriched with calcium, black-eyed peas are frequently recommended for patients who suffer from osteoporosis.
What to take along Calcium?
Calcium is certainly in abundance in the body stored inside the bones. However, to aid its absorption, one needs to make sure that other essential minerals are consumed along. These minerals include magnesium, Vitamin D and K.
Magnesium can be obtained through Fruits, green leafy vegetables and nuts.
Vitamin D can be obtained through sunlight, fish oil, egg yolks
Vitamin K is present in a plentiful amount in cod liver oil and dark green leafy vegetables.
More on Benefits
Osteoporosis is becoming one of the major cause of disability affecting 10 million people in the USA alone. Women stand as more vulnerable to this condition than men. It is pertinent for patients suffering from osteoporosis to include Calcium rich food in their diet as it will promote healthy skeletal and bone health by increasing bone density. Parents should pay special attention to the diet of their children as lack of calcium at an early age will reduce bone mass and make them less dense. Which in turn will put these children at a higher risk of osteoporosis in adult age.
The American Cancer Society released an interesting study that examines the link between cancer and daily intake of calcium. It was reported with evidence that people who made it a point to cover their daily requirements had significantly reduced their chances of being inflicted with Colon and Rectal Cancer. The real known reason for this is still being thoroughly studied however there have been reported evidence of a reduction in carcinogen cells in the colorectal region.
This article overly emphasized the benefits of calcium by suggesting the non-dairy products that can be used as suitable alternatives to fulfil the daily requirement. A deficiency of this mineral is known to cause a wide range of medical complications and puts the person at a higher risk of bone damage and fracture. Considering the numerous health-related advantages that are associated with calcium, it becomes pertinent to include the right amount in our daily diet