Calcium is a really important nutrient with many health benefits. The University of Wisconsin’s Department of Medicine claims that almost every cell in our body uses calcium in some way, and is critical to the health of certain systems such as our nervous system, muscular system, cardiovascular system, and skeletal system. An article on Dr. Oz’ website highlights how calcium is needed for “muscle contraction, blood vessel constriction and relaxation, hormone secretion” as well.
We know our bones store calcium, and healthy bones lead to a healthy body. It’s particularly important for children to get adequate calcium, because it’s in up until mid-teens when the bones actually “store” up their calcium supply. For adults, the issue is that the body will take calcium from the bones if there is not enough of it for the other functions. This is why it becomes really important for women, as we age, to attend to our bone health and be aware of our calcium intake. A study in Sweden found that calcuim intake could reduce the risk of colon cancer.
So, how much do we need? The National Cancer Institute says 1,000 mg for people 18-50, 1300 mg for kids 9-18, and 1,200 mg for people 51 years and older. Although this might sound like a lot, consider that a cup of low-fat yogurt is 345 mg, a cup of low-fat milk is 300 mg, and a cup of spinach is 292 mg.
Since you understand the importance of what we eat and how our food choices are very much a wellness choice, we think you’ll appreciate being thoughtful about your calcium. So Happy calcium-rich eating today.
- List of calcium rich food from the National Osteoporosis Foundation. And if you’re dairy-free, there are many choices for you. http://nof.org/articles/886
- Here’s a more detailed overview of the role of calcium with a full nutrient list of calcium foods. http://www.whfoods.com/genpage.php?tname=nutrient&dbid=45
- National Cancer Institute’s daily recommendations for calcium intake based on age and explanation of the study that found colon cancer risk was slightly lower: http://www.cancer.gov/about-cancer/causes-prevention/risk/diet/calcium-fact-sheet