Calcium is a very important nutrient for our bodies as women. It is a key nutrient for your body to stay strong and healthy. Almost every cell in the body uses calcium in some way, including the nervous system, muscles, and heart. It is also an essential building block for lifelong bone health in both men and women. Calcium is the most abundant mineral in the body, one that plays many vital roles. Your body uses it to build healthy bones and teeth, keep them strong as you age, send messages through the nervous system, help your blood clot, your muscles contract, and regulate the heart’s rhythm, among other things.
When we do not get enough calcium in our diet, our bodies will take calcium from our bones to ensure normal cell function, which can lead to weakened bones or osteoporosis. Calcium deficiency can also lead to mood problems such as irritability, anxiety, depression, and difficulty sleeping. Approximately one in two women over the age of 50 will break a bone due to osteoporosis. But osteoporosis is not an inevitable part of getting older. Whatever your age, it’s important to take care of your bones and get the calcium you need.
Osteoporosis is a “silent” disease characterized by loss of bone mass. Due to weakened bones, fractures become commonplace, which leads to serious health risks such as the inability to walk. People with osteoporosis often don’t recover after a fall and it is the second most common cause of death in women, mostly those aged 60 and older. Men are also at risk of developing osteoporosis, but typically 5 to 10 years later than women. Fortunately, osteoporosis is preventable for most people, and getting enough calcium in your diet is the first place to start.
While there is nothing wrong with taking calcium supplements, your body is able to absorb more calcium from food than it can from supplements. There are several reasons why your calcium intake should primarily come from the food that you eat rather than from supplements. In fact, studies show that even though people who take calcium supplements have a higher average daily intake, those who get most of their calcium from food have stronger bones.
Good food sources of calcium
Dairy: Dairy products are rich in calcium in a form that is easily digested and absorbed by the body. Sources include milk, yogurt, and cheese.
Vegetables and greens: Many vegetables, especially leafy green ones, are rich sources of calcium. Try turnip greens, mustard greens, collard greens, kale, romaine lettuce, celery, broccoli, fennel, cabbage, summer squash, green beans, Brussels sprouts, asparagus, and crimini mushrooms.
Beans: For another rich source of calcium, try black beans, pinto beans, kidney beans, white beans, black-eyed peas, or baked beans.
Herbs and spices: For a small but tasty calcium boost, flavour your food with basil, thyme, dill weed, cinnamon, peppermint leaves, garlic, oregano, rosemary, and parsley.
Other foods: More good sources of calcium include salmon, tofu, oranges, almonds, sesame seeds, blackstrap molasses, and sea vegetables. And don’t forget about calcium-fortified foods such as cereals and orange juice.