This mineral does more than just create healthy bones.
We all know the advertisements––Got Milk? Why was it so important that we drink so much milk? The answer, of course, was because milk had calcium in it!
Calcium is an important nutrient, for a variety of reasons. We all know that calcium is necessary for creating strong bones, but the roles calcium plays in the body are much more involved than fortifying our skeleton. Calcium also plays a role in:
– maintaining proper heart rhythm
– maintaining muscle function
– controlling blood pressure
Calcium along with vitamin D might also protect against certain cancers.
Got Milk, But Do You Need It?
While milk and dairy products are notorious for being an important source of calcium, they simply are not the only place to get calcium in your diet. This is good because milk and many dairy products are things you should be avoiding while on the
Milk and many dairy products are rich in lactose––the sugar found in milk. Couple this with the fact that much of the dairy in America is tainted with hormones and antibiotics, with the exception of a few dairy products permitted on the Kaufmann Diet, milk and dairy is something we should all likely eat less of.
So, what should we eat to get our calcium? There are a variety of foods that contain significant amounts of calcium:
Almonds, 1oz – 7.5% RDA
Broccoli Rabe, 1cup – 30% RDA
Kale, 1 cup, sautéed – 20% RDA
Kelp, 1 cup – 13% RDA
Plain Yogurt, 1 cup – 30% RDA
Rockfish, 3oz – 11% RDA
Sardines, 3oz – 33% RDA
Sesame Seeds, 1 tablespoon – 14% RDA
What About Supplements?
Calcium is one of the best-selling supplements in the USA because the benefits of calcium are well understood. Particularly, as we age, calcium supplements can seem like a good idea.
There is some evidence, however, that calcium supplementation alone does not provide a tremendous benefit for bone health. In fact, there is some evidence that calcium supplementation may lead to heart attack, stroke and possibly prostate cancer in men.
Conversely, dietary intake of calcium has shown no risk of leading to health problems. This underscores the fact that getting this particular nutrient from our diet is key.
It is important to remember, too, that calcium works synergistically with vitamin D for bone health. Maintaining proper levels of vitamin D is likely as important as getting enough calcium, in terms of bone health.
Finally, balance is important with calcium––more is not better, necessarily. Try not to exceed the upper limit of the RDA.
The Bottom Line
Getting enough calcium in your diet, along with enough vitamin D, is an important aspect of health, and one we should all aim for. However, it may not be the best idea for everyone to supplement with calcium unless directed by your doctor.