Calcium is required for the normal development and maintenance of the skeleton as well as for the proper functioning of neuromuscular and cardiac function. It is stored in the teeth and bones where it provides structure and strength. Low intakes of calcium have been associated with a condition of low bone density called osteoporosis which is quite common in western cultures and which often results in bone fracture. It is one of the major causes of morbidity amongst older Australians and New Zealanders, particularly postmenopausal women.
How much do i need?
RDA (recommended dietary allowance) 800 – 1400mg
Therapeutic Dose 1000 – 2000mg
Food Sources of Calcium
Good dietary sources of calcium include milk and milk products – milk, yoghurt, cheese and buttermilk. One cup of milk, a 200 g tub of yoghurt provides around 300 mg calcium. Calcium-fortified milks can provide larger amounts of calcium in a smaller volume of milk – ranging from 280 mg to 400 mg per 200 ml milk.
Dairy is a great source of dairy however it is not the only source. People are often hesitant to reduce their dairy intake as they are worried they will not get enough calcium. There are however many other sources of calcium which include:
– leafy green vegetables – broccoli, collards (cabbage family), bok choy, Chinese cabbage and spinach. One cup of cooked spinach contains 100 mg, although only five per cent of this may be absorbed. This is due to the high concentration of oxalate, a compound in spinach that reduces calcium absorption. By contrast, one cup of cooked broccoli contains about 45 mg of calcium, but the absorption from broccoli is much higher at around 50–60 per cent.
– fish – sardines and salmon (with bones). Half a cup of canned salmon contains 402 mg of calcium
– nuts and seeds – brazil nuts, almonds and sesame seed paste (tahini). Fifteen almonds contain about 40 mg of calcium.
– calcium-fortified foods – including breakfast cereals, fruit juices and bread. One cup of calcium-fortified breakfast cereal (40 g) contains up to 200 mg of calcium. ½ cup of calcium-fortified orange juice (100 ml) contains up to 80 mg of calcium, and two slices of bread (30 g) provides 200 mg of calcium.
– egg yolk – 1 egg yolk contains approximately 22mg of calcium with the white adding 2.3mg.
– sea vegetables – kelp in particular contains 168mg of calcium per 100 gram
Blood clotting, bone and tooth formation, cell membrane permeability, and maintenance of electrolyte balance, muscle contraction, nerve transmission, regulation of cell division and hormone secretion.
– Coffee, soft drinks, and diuretics
– Refined sugar or too much of any sweetener
– Alcohol, marijuana, cigarettes and other intoxicants
– Too little or too much exercise
– Excess salt
– The Solanum genus of vegetables – tomatoes in particular, but also potatoes, eggplant and capsicum. These all contain the calcium inhibitor solanine. Just don’t combine these foods at one time with a high calcium source, if calcium is the desired nutrient
Recommendations for increasing calcium absorption…
– Get sufficient vitamin D from sunshine. The ideal daily sunshine exposure to ensure adequate vitamin D for proper calcium absorption is 20% of the skin of the body exposed for 30 minutes at sea level, morning or afternoon
– Eat calcium-, magnesium-, chlorophyll-, and mineral-rich foods, such as legumes, leafy greens (including cereal grasses and/or micro algae) and seaweeds. Avoid calcium inhibitors.
– Exercise regularly and moderately to halt calcium loss and increase bone mass. Particularly weight bearing exercise
– Calcium supplements can be helpful. For maximum assimilation include plenty of green vegetables in the diet. These supplements are to best taken with very high mineral foods or in conjunction with mineral supplements and should contain at least calcium, magnesium, potassium, iron, zinc, copper, selenium, iodine, chromium, manganese, boron and trace minerals. In particular make sure that the form of calcium is optimal – Calcium (chelate 100% absorbed, hydroxyapatite most, citrate good, carbonate low absorption)
– Pre-soak grains and legumes before cooking to neutralise their phytic acid content, which otherwise binds the zinc, magnesium, calcium and other minerals in these foods
– Use oxalic acid foods sparingly – rhubarb, cranberries, plums, spinach, chard and beet greens – as they also bind calcium. Cooking these foods reduces binding effect
– If dairy is used, the fermented kinds digest most easily – yoghurt, cottage cheese, buttermilk, kefir. Goat’s and sheep’s milk products are preferable. Avoid skim milk; it is devoid of fat and enzymes necessary for proper calcium absorption.
– Increase silicon rich foods – unrefined vegetables, all lettuce, parsnips, buckwheat, millet, oats, brown rice, dandelion greens, strawberries, celery, cucumber (richest in the peel) apricots and carrots.
If you require further information or a specific food plan contact Kasey on 5504 7000 to schedule a Nutrition Consultation.