Calcium is an essential bulk mineral. It makes up bones and teeth and is essential for the transmission of information along the nerves and is used in the contraction of muscles.
Calcium is essential to:
- maintaining total body health,
- normal growth and development,
- keeping your bones and teeth strong over your lifetime( they contain 99% of the body’s calcium, the remaining 1% is in blood),
- ensuring the proper functioning of muscles and nerves,
- keeping the heart beating,
- helping blood clotting and regulating blood pressure,
- metabolizing iron,
- the action of a number of hormones (particularly those associated with the thyroid and parathyroid glands),
- cell structure, and
- absorbing vitamin B12.
Calcium also prevents muscle or leg cramps in some people.
Rich sources of Calcium are:
- Herbs and spices: For a small but tasty calcium boost, flavor your food with basil, thyme, cinnamon, peppermint leaves, garlic, oregano, rosemary and parsley.Dairy: Dairy products are rich in calcium in a form that is easily digested and absorbed by the body. Sources include milk ,yoghurt and cheese. Low dairy food products contain as much calcium as full fat versions. Skimmed milk contains slightly more calcium than full fat milk because calcium contained in the non-creamy portion of milk.
- Soy foods: Have naturally occurring calcium and those products which are also often enriched to further increase the calcium amount. Calcium-rich soy products include soy milk, soya nuggets, soya granules, tofu and veggies burgers and mock meats ,just to a name few.
- Vegetables and greens: Many vegetables, especially green leafy ones, are rich sources of calcium like turnip greens, mustard greens, lettuce, celery, broccoli, fennel, cabbage, green beans, Brussels sprout, asparagus and mushrooms.
- Beans: For another rich source of calcium, try black beans, kidney beans, white beans, black-eyed peas, or baked beans.
- Snack on nuts and seeds such as almonds and sesame seeds.
Minimize calcium leaching culprits:
There are some food items which when consumed in excess, leach calcium from your bones and deplete your body’s calcium stores, hence should be consumed in moderation.
- Salt (sodium):A high salt diet increases the amount of calcium excreted in urine, weakening the bones.
- Caffeine: Drinking more than 2cups of coffee a day can lead to calcium loss. One cup of coffee prevents absorption of around 6mg of calcium.
- Animal protein: Protein is a vital part of your diet, but getting too much protein from animal sources can lead to calcium loss. If you are a non vegetarian, to avoid weakening your bone’s calcium stores, limit yourself to 4ounches/115gm of meet per day.
- Alcohol: alcohol inhibits calcium absorption and disrupts body’s calcium balance in a number of ways. Alcohol damages the cells that make new bone and disrupt the digestive process, preventing the body absorbing nutrient properly.
- Soft drinks: it’s best to avoid drinking soft drinks regularly. In order to balance the phosphates in soft drinks, the body draws calcium from the bones,which is then excreted.