Why your body needs calcium, and the best natural sources to get it.
The health benefits of calcium cannot be overstated: calcium is a mineral that plays an important role in many different functions of the body. When dieting to lose weight, it’s essential you make sure you’re still eating plenty of calcium rich foods to enjoy the full benefits of this great mineral.
Some of the important ways that calcium benefits our bodies include:
- Building and strengthening bones and teeth.
- Assisting with the circulation of blood around the body.
- Enhancing communication between the brain and the body, via the nerves.
- Steadying the release of hormones.
- Ensuring blood clotting.
- Improving muscle movement.
Calcium in your diet.
Our bodies are unable to make calcium, as such we need to get it from food, drinks or as a supplement. Dietitians recommend that adults get between 1000-1300mg of calcium each day, from a range of sources.
Calcium rich foods include dairy products such as milk, yoghurt, and cheese. These are the most commonly consumed sources of calcium, and it’s recommended that adults eat 2.5 servings of these calcium rich foods per day to reach the recommended intake amount.
If you are unable to consume dairy products, other sources of calcium include:
- Tofu and soy-based products.
- Calcium-fortified products such as milk substitutes, fortified cereals, and fortified fruit juices.
- Fish with soft edible bones, such as sardines or canned salmon.
Calcium is also available in some plant-based foods such as almonds, sesame seeds, and dark leafy greens (think broccoli and kale). However, the amount of calcium from these sources is lower and less readily absorbed by the body, meaning you need to eat more to reach your recommended daily calcium needs.
The risks of calcium deficiency.
If you’re not getting enough calcium in your daily diet, you’re at risk of developing calcium deficiency. This increases your chances of having poor bone health, weakened bones, and puts you at higher risk of developing osteoporosis.
It’s also important to make sure you’re receiving adequate Vitamin D to help your body absorb the calcium you’re consuming, so step out into the sunshine while you have your morning latte – it’ll support your body more than you think!