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Nutrition Article: Calcium... Do You Get Enough?
By Karen Goeller, CSCS
Copyright © Goeller
This article is not for reprint without written permission from the author.

Calcium is an important component of a healthy diet. Although it is a mineral that is essential for life, the majority of Americans do not get adequate calcium on a daily basis. Calcium is the fifth most abundant element by mass in the human body. Calcium is a key factor to keeping your body running smoothly. It is essential for numerous functions, including building and maintaining bones and teeth, the transmission of nerve impulses, and the regulation of the heart's rhythm. Calcium is also used in muscle contraction, blood clotting, and the maintenance of cell membranes.

Calcium plays an important role in building stronger bones early in life and keeping them strong later in life. Consuming adequate calcium and vitamin D and performing regular, weight-bearing exercise are important to build maximum bone density and strength. Such "weight-bearing" exercises include walking, dancing, jogging, weightlifting, stair-climbing, racquet sports, and hiking. Calcium is essential to good health and getting enough can help you reduce the risk of osteoporosis. People typically lose bone as they age, despite consuming the recommended intake of calcium necessary to maintain optimal bone health. Teenagers, young women and post-menopausal women in particular are most often consuming far less than calcium than their body needs.

Dietary sources are the best way to attain optimal calcium intake. Calcium requirements depend in part upon whether the body is growing or making new bone or milk. Dietary requirements vary throughout life and are greatest during periods of growth and pregnancy. Diets high in sodium increase calcium losses in the urine.

Many foods contain calcium, but dairy products are not always the best source. Foods and beverages high in calcium include leafy greens, coconut milks, almond milks, and dairy products. If drinking 3-1/3 cups of milk a day does not appeal to you, you can get calcium from a range of other dairy and nondairy sources. Milk is actually only one of many sources of calcium. Most populations get about half their dietary calcium from milk and other dairy products.

There are many foods besides dairy products that contain calcium. Dark green leafy vegetables also contain calcium, but it is not as readily absorbed as calcium from dairy sources. Dairy products are high in calcium, while certain green vegetables and other foods contain calcium in smaller amounts. These include leafy green vegetables, broccoli, nuts, seeds, beans, cheese, and dried figs. Other sources of calcium are salmon and sardines canned with their soft bones.

Milk and dairy products are the biggest sources of calcium, but eating a variety of foods is the best way to get an adequate amount. Now more than ever there are a wide variety of foods and beverages that contain calcium. There are many that are fortified with calcium. Some juices, breakfast foods, soymilk, cereals, snacks, breads and bottled water have been fortified with this necessary nutrient.

Calcium is an essential nutrient our body needs every day. It is one of the most important elements in the diet because it is a structural component of bones, teeth, and soft tissues and is essential in many of the body's metabolic processes. Calcium is the most plentiful mineral found in the human body. Remember, calcium is important for several body functions, so getting enough is imperative for good health.

 

You may also be interested in...

Osteopenia

Lactose Intolerance

Eat Healthy

Building Muscle

By Karen M. Goeller, CSCS
Karen Goeller has been training athletes since 1978. She has an education that includes training in emergency medicine, physical therapy, and nutrition. She has held certifications that include NSCA-CSCS, Fitness Trainer, EMT-D, Nutritional Analysis, and many Gymnastics Certifications among others. Besides being author of the Gymnastics Drills and Conditioning books, Karen is the author of the Swing Set Fitness books. She has also published journals, training programs, and articles. Her books are used by fitness experts, coaches, teachers, and athletes worldwide. Karen has worked for world famous gymnastics coach Bela Karolyi, owned a gymnastics club for ten years, and has been featured in several newspapers and on television many times. She offers sports performance training and private gymnastics training in NJ. For more on Karen visit www.KarenGoeller.com.
 

 

References
ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/calcium.asp,  nof.org/prevention/calcium2, en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Calcium, ohioline.osu.edu, spine-health.com, health.nytimes.com/health/guides/nutrition/calcium-in-diet, calciuminfo.com, mednews.wustl.edu, pcrm.org/health, faqs.org/nutrition



 

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