If somebody asked you about why you need calcium in your diet, what would you say? We have it drummed into us from an early age that calcium is good for our teeth and bones, but why is calcium so important, and what happens if you don’t get enough? If you’re not as clued up on calcium as you could be, you’ve come to the right place!
What exactly is calcium and why is it so important?
Calcium is a mineral, which is found in several foods. It is best known for its involvement in building strong, healthy bones, nails, and teeth, but it has many other important roles within the body. As well as protecting the bones, calcium is also essential for controlling muscle contraction and making sure the blood clots normally. Around 99 percent of the body’s calcium stores are found in the teeth and bones. We lose calcium daily, and we are reliant on our diet to replace it, as the body is not capable of making calcium. If you don’t get sufficient calcium from your diet, your body starts to use calcium stored in your bones, and this can lead to weak bones.
Am I getting enough calcium?
The recommended daily intake of calcium varies according to your age and gender. Adults aged between 19 and 50 years old should consume 1,000 mg per day. Women need a little more calcium as they get older with an RDA of 1,200 mg for females aged over 50. If you have a calcium deficiency, this can put you at risk of osteoporosis. Changing your diet and increasing the amount of exercise can help to strengthen bone tissue, but you may also be advised to take supplements. If your calcium intake is too low talking options through with your doctor.
If you’re not at risk of osteoporosis, you should find that you’re able to hit your daily targets using your diet alone. Although it’s rare, it is possible to take in too much calcium. If you’re getting all the calcium you need from your diet, for example, and you start taking supplements, you may experience symptoms such as stomach pains and changes in your bowel habits.
As well as ensuring you get enough calcium, you also need to make sure you get plenty of vitamin D. Vitamin D plays an important role in regulating the levels of calcium in the body. Your body can generate vitamin D from exposure to sunlight, but it can also be found in foods such as oily fish, liver, red meat, and eggs.
Sources of calcium
The best sources of calcium include dairy products, such as milk, yogurt, and cheese, leafy green vegetables, and soya beans, tofu, and nuts. You can also buy fortified cereals and bread, which have added calcium.
Calcium is essential for good health. If you didn’t know much about calcium before, hopefully, you’ll find this guide useful, and you can take steps to protect your teeth and bones.
*Disclaimer: readers are encouraged to talk to their doctor about health-related decisions.