How calcium helps your health
- Calcium is one of the most important minerals for the growth, maintenance, and reproduction of the human body. Calcium is essential for the formation of and maintenance of healthy teeth and bones.
- The bones incorporate calcium into their structure. Like other tissues in the body, bones are continuously being reabsorbed and re-formed. Teeth are built from calcium in a manner similar to bones.
- Calcium also assists blood coagulation, transmission of nerve impulses, muscle contraction and relaxation, normal heartbeat, stimulation of hormone secretion, activation of enzyme reactions, and other functions of the body.
How much calcium do I need?
Daily calcium recommendations can vary depending on age and special needs:
- 0 to 6 months: 210 mg
- 7 to 12 months: 270 mg
- 1 to 3 years: 500 mg
- 4 to 8 years: 800 mg
- 9 to 13 years: 1300 mg
- 14 to 18 years: 1300 mg
- 19 to 50 years: 1000 mg
- 51+ years: 1200 mg
If you take calcium supplements, choose those that also contain Vitamin D, which helps calcium to be absorbed by the body. The preferred source of calcium is calcium-rich foods such as dairy products.
Calcium-rich foods to include in your diet.
- 8-ounce glass of milk = 300 milligrams
- 2 ounces of Swiss cheese = 530 milligrams
- 6 ounces of yogurt = 300 milligrams
- 2 ounces of sardines with bones = 240 milligrams
- 6 ounces of cooked turnip greens = 220 milligrams
- 3 ounces of almonds = 210 milligrams
Other foods to turn to for calcium:
- Other dairy products: yogurt, most cheeses, and buttermilk are excellent sources of calcium and are available in low-fat or fat-free versions.
- Green leafy vegetables: broccoli, collards, kale, mustard greens, turnip greens, and bok choy or Chinese cabbage are good sources of calcium.
- Fish: salmon and sardines canned with their soft bones.
- Enriched foods: some varieties of breads and orange juice are enriched with calcium to make them a significant source of calcium for people whose dairy product consumption is inadequate.
Does fat-free milk contain as much calcium as whole and 2% milk?
- Yes. The calcium is not contained in milk fat, so removing the fat will not affect the calcium content.
- Low intakes of calcium for prolonged periods of time can lead to calcium deficiency. This condition leads to osteoporosis, loss of the jaw bone (and secondary oral health problems), hypertension, and other disorders.