Understanding Calcium

Hello Healthy Friends!

Calcium is the topic today.

What is calcium?  It is perhaps the most essential nutrient for bone health.  Building strong bones is like building a healthy balance in your “calcium bank account”.  Bones are living tissue and constantly in a state of turnover, making calcium deposits and withdrawals every day.

Bones are not guaranteed to last a lifetime without maintenance.  If your diet is low in calcium, bones will weaken and can break or fracture.  When you are low on calcium, your body will take calcium from your bones to keep blood calcium at normal levels.

To keep bones healthy for a lifetime:

*Consume three servings of low-fat or fat-free milk or other calcium-rich foods every day.  If you have an aversion to cow’s milk, almond milk is a fantastic choice.  One cup of almond milk has about 45% of the Daily Value.

*Be physically active most days with weight bearing exercises such as running, dancing or weight training.

Registered Dietitian Nutritionists recommend food as the primary source of vitamins, minerals and other nutrients, such as calcium.  Before thinking about taking a calcium supplement try these calcium-boosting tips:

*Drink an 8 ounce glass of milk or calcium-fortified beverage with your meal.  Remember, fat-free and low-fat milk have the same amount of calcium as whole milk.

*Add milk to oatmeal instead of water.

*Eat 1 cup of low-fat or fat-free Greek yogurt with fruit for breakfast or as a snack.

*Top a baked potato with 1/2 cup steamed broccoli and 1/4 cup shredded low-fat or fat-free cheese.

* Add 1/2 cup of calcium-rich greens like kale, collard greens or turnip greens to your dinner.

*Try cooked soybeans or dried figs for a calcium-rich snack.

*Blend a cup of milk into your fruit and vegetable smoothie.

Calcium is best absorbed if you add it to each meal throughout the day instead of eating it at only one daily meal.  Calcium intake should not exceed 2,500 milligrams per day.

Read food labels and select foods with 10 percent or more of the Daily Value for calcium.  Some foods high in calcium may be labeled as “calcium-rich” or “excellent source of calcium”.

Other tips for bone health include:

*Avoid smoking and excessive alcohol intake.

*See your physician to discuss your risk factors for osteoporosis, especially if you are a woman over age 50.  Your physician can tell you if it’s time for a bone density test.

*If you do take a calcium supplement, make sure to add vitamin D which will aid in absorption.

Be Well!

Sherry Jenko, NDTR, Wellness Coach

Source:  eatright.org