It is well known that calcium is an important mineral for maintaining strong bones and teeth, assisting in blood clotting, and helping the heart keep beating. By eating a varied diet, you can get enough calcium, making it unnecessary to use supplements. People need strong bones and teeth to be healthy and your bone mass reaches its peak at around 30 years of age.
After age 30, the density of your bones begins to diminish. As a result, your bones become more fragile and are more likely to break, especially in old age. Also, joints are affected by changes in cartilage and in connective tissue. Thus, in some people, the surfaces of the joint do not slide as well over each other as they used to. This process may lead to osteoarthritis.
So the lesson you need to learn is that enough calcium must be ingested as early as possible. What is the best choice for supplementation? Let’s have a look at the following dietary ways to boost your intake.
1. Foods that provide calcium
Dairy products that are rich in calcium are ideal sources, and the absorption and utilization rate are far greater than with other foods. Dairy products are also rich in high-quality protein, vitamin A, and other nutrients that are critical to bone health. It is recommended to drink 300g of milk a day. If you are uncomfortable with milk, you can choose yogurt or cheese, but you need to pay attention to the salt content.
Green vegetables are high in calcium, and good quality sources include shepherd’s purse, mustard greens, amaranth, small rapeseed, Chinese cabbage, broccoli, turnips, and edamame. One hundred grams of green amaranth contains 187 mg of calcium, which is higher than milk, but the absorption rate is relatively poor.
Beans are also a good source of calcium. Fresh edamame and dried beans, such as soybeans, black beans, and soy products, contain useful amounts for the body. Gypsum or calcium-containing brine is added during the traditional process of making tofu, dried tofu, and other soy products.
The bones of fish are also rich in calcium. When fish is heated during the canning process or pickled, the bones are softened and can be eaten along with the fish. Deep-sea fish such as sardines and salmon are among the few foods rich in vitamin D. Vitamin D helps its absorption. Only one can of sardines (55 g) meets 1/4 of the daily requirement.
Nuts and dried fruits can also supplement calcium. Among the nuts, almonds and Brazil nuts are rich in calcium. Thirty grams of almonds contain approximately 75 mg, 1 orange (100 g) has about 45 mg, and 30 g of dried figs also contain 100 mg. In addition, the rich vitamin C in fruits helps its absorption, and potassium helps reduce its urinary excretion.
2. Vitamin D helps with calcium absorption
Vitamin D helps with calcium absorption. In the daily diet, the food source of vitamin D is limited, and it is mainly synthesized by direct exposure to the sun. Sunbathing is convenient and free, but it’s better not to over-expose. Choose the sunshine from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. for 10 to 20 minutes without wearing sunscreen. The sunshine in the morning, sunset, and clouds covering the sun is not good enough to help make vitamin D.
It may not be convenient or possible to be in the sun. Having full-fat dairy products in your diet assists the body in absorbing vitamin D, which is fat-soluble. The complementary effect is that vitamin D then helps the body make use of the calcium, magnesium, and phosphate contained in the dairy products. Yogurt is already suggested and is a good way to consume enough dairy if you do not drink milk or suffer from lactose intolerance. You can also choose nutrient-fortified foods and for confidence, dietary supplements are a more reliable choice — just add 400 units of vitamin D per day.
For those people who eat erratically or infrequently, it’s better to have calcium supplementation in small doses and supplement multiple times during the day for better results.