Did you know that more than half of Australian adults do not meet their recommended daily intake of calcium? Breaking this down even more – only one in four females and one in two males meet their calcium requirements from food. “So what!?” you might be thinking. Why is calcium important to include in my diet? We examine why calcium is so essential, how much is enough, and where we can get calcium in our diet. Apart from dairy products like cheese and yoghurt, where else can we find this important mineral?
Why is Calcium important for my health?
Nutritionists say making sure you are consuming enough foods that include calcium in your diet can benefit you and your body in many ways:
- Enough calcium in a day keeps the dentist away – calcium has been proven to strengthen bones and teeth. This can assist in preventing disease and infection in the mouth teeth and gums, plus strong bones can assist in preventing low bone density and osteoporosis.
- Calcium is the ultimate regulator of both muscle and heart function. There is also evidence suggesting that calcium prevents blood clotting.
- Calcium can also play a role in combatting colon cancer.
Fascinatingly, calcium is one of the most common minerals found in the body. So the question is if our bodies are already producing the calcium we need already, why do we need to eat foods that contain it and maintain a decent intake?
Every day, Calcium is lost from our body through normal bodily processes in the kidneys and colon, with it also being lost through sweat and the shedding of hair, fingernails, and skin. This is a normal part of your bodies’ metabolism, but if our intake of calcium is inadequate, it can lead to problems.
How much should we be getting?
Different stages of our lives change our calcium requirements. Young children, teenagers and older women have higher calcium needs. Here are the recommended NHRMC Nutrient Reference Values (NRV) for recommended intake:
Recommended adequate calcium intake
- Children 9-11 years 1,000 mg/day
- Teens 12-18 years 1,300 mg/day
- Adults 19+ 1,000 mg/day
- Women 50+ 1,300 mg/day
- Men 70+ 1,300 mg/day
What happens if I am calcium deficient?
If your diet does not include enough calcium to replace what is used for plus more, the body will pull from the stored supply, and according to Osteoporosis Australia, almost 99% of calcium is found in the bones! This means inadequate calcium can weaken your bones and your teeth, increasing the risk of fracture or worse. Don’t go waiting for brittle bones or worse, get some calcium into you!
What foods contain calcium?
Dairy and soy products such as butter, cream, yoghurt, ice-cream, cheese, tofu and milk contain high levels of calcium. Oily fish like sardines or salmon contain calcium. Also almonds, and pulses like chickpeas. Vegetables and fruits such as rhubarb, broccoli, spinach, figs and kale are also good sources of calcium and are rich in antioxidants as well. Coming into the warmer months, homemade soups containing pinto, red or white beans are also good.
Osteoporosis Australia recommends between 3 and 5 servings of calcium-rich food every day. Here’s a handy printable sheet which breaks down the calcium content in many popular foods.
We hope you have found this wrap up on why calcium is important for our health helpful, stay tuned for more info coming soon on tips for getting more calcium, and how to ensure your bone health. Follow us on Facebook or Instagram to keep up to date.