Calcium is a nutrient necessary for the growth and maintenance of strong teeth and bones, nerve signaling, muscle contraction, and secretion of certain hormones and enzymes. A deficiency in calcium can lead to numbness in fingers and toes, muscle cramps, convulsions, lethargy, loss of appetite, and abnormal heart rhythms. Conversely, excess calcium (particularly from supplements) can lead to kidney stones, calcification of soft tissue, and increased risk of vascular diseases like stroke and heart attack.
Calcium is the most abundant mineral in the body, and is found naturally in a wide variety of foods and beverages and added to many others! But whether lactose-intolerant or sick of wine and cheese parties, there’s no need to rely only on dairy products for that daily dose of calcium. Here’s why we should get enough calcium—and all the unexpected ways to get enough of it. Our body needs calcium for healthy bones. Not only that, calcium is also very important for proper functioning of our nerves and muscles.
In order for your body to absorb calcium your body also needs magnesium, vitamin D and vitamin K. So food sources and complex food based supplements are preferred to isolated calcium supplements to meet your calcium needs. The RDA for calcium is 1000 milligrams a day for men and women under 50, and 1200 milligrams a day for those older than 50.
Most of the calcium intake is for the bones to be absorbed. However, a percentage of calcium plays a vital role in muscular and nervous functions too. This is because muscular and nervous contractions and relaxations actually help the heart to function and stay healthy. So, calcium actually helps your heart to stay healthy and can prevent chances of heart stroke.
However, a large percentage of the population does not get enough calcium from the diet. The main foods rich in calcium are dairy products like milk, cheese and yogurt. However, many non-dairy sources are also high in this mineral. These include seafood, leafy greens, legumes, dried fruit, tofu and various foods that are fortified with calcium.
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Why Is Calcium Important? Calcium is not produced by our bodies. Hence, it is important to include it in our diet. This essential nutrient is really required by our body. It has been proved in recent years that calcium can actually help you stay slim by aiding in weight loss. So, infusing your diet with calcium enriched foods will help you stay in shape. Calcium does not let you store up fat. Rather it helps fat to get burned and keeps you fit. Isn’t this a good reason to have more food with calcium?
Here are Bone-building foods that are rich in calcium, many of which are non-dairy.
- sesame seeds are an excellent source of copper and a very good source of manganese, but they are also a good source of calcium, magnesium, iron.
- bok choy. Chinese cabbage or bok choy, when eaten raw in a salad, can give you about 104 milligrams of calcium per 100 grams.
- kale: It Has More Vitamin C Than An Orange
- Almonds, which are among the best nuts for your health, contain about 12% of your necessary daily protein, and are rich in vitamin E and potassium. And although they are fattening, it’s the good kind of fat that helps lower your bad cholesterol levels as long as you enjoy them in moderation.
- broccoli are not just good sources of calcium but are very good for your health too. If you are on a diet, you must try to include broccoli in your meals. They will help you maintain your weight as well as give you your daily needed calcium boost. If you are on a diet, then broccoli is one vegetable that you must definitely eat.
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- spinach: A cup of raw spinach has 29.7 milligrams of calcium, or 3 percent of the daily value.
- watercress: This is a very good source of calcium. About 100 grams of watercress generates approximately 120 milligrams of calcium.
- Orange: You know oranges for their immune-boosting vitamin C content, but they’re also low in calories and brimming with antioxidants.
- figs: Dried figs are rich in antioxidants and fiber.
- collard greens are a rich source of calcium. A cup of well-boiled collards contains about 355 milligrams of calcium.
- edamame: One cup of edamame has 10% of the RDI of calcium. It’s also a good source of protein and delivers all your daily folate in a single serving
- white beans have been shown to contain higher levels of calcium than dark beans. They also hold potassium, folate, vitamin C, and non-heme iron.
- Okra contains constipation-fighting insoluble fiber, as well as vitamin B6 and folate. And don’t write off this veggie if you’ve only ever had a boiled, slimy version; oven-roasting, sautéing, or grilling bring out the best flavor.
- beans and lentils re high in fiber, protein and micronutrients. They also boast lots of iron, zinc, folate, magnesium and potassium. Some varieties also have decent amounts of calcium.
- Rhubarb has a lot of fiber, vitamin K, calcium and smaller amounts of other vitamins and minerals.
- Amaranth is a pseudocereal that is super nutritious. It’s a good source of folate and very high in certain minerals, including manganese, magnesium, phosphorous and iron.
- sunflower seeds are tiny nutritional powerhouses. Some of them are high in calcium, including poppy, sesame, celery and chia seeds.
- green beans: In about 100 grams of raw green beans, you can get about 36 milligrams of calcium. These can be consumed in the form of vegetables, in soups or boiled. When cooked or boiled, 125 grams of green snap beans generate about 54 milligrams of calcium.
- sweet potatoes are packed with calcium, potassium, and vitamins A and C
- kelp provides extraordinary amounts of iodine and other minerals, vitamins
- Brazil nuts are always tasty and crunchy. You can always eat a handful of nuts if you are not too much concerned about the calorie or oil content in them. About 10 Brazil nuts will give you 90 milligrams of calcium. Nuts are a rich source of various nutrients including calcium.