Calcium is an essential nutrient and crucial for our bodies to work properly. Calcium is especially important for women because of our heightened risk of developing osteopenia and osteoporosis as we get older. Calcium functions its best when paired with it’s bestie, Vitamin D. Calcium is Vitamin D-dependent, meaning it can only perform its functions when adequate amounts of Vitamin D are available. Calcium absorption can be inhibited by phytates, which are found in cruciferous vegetables.
Functions of calcium in the body:
- aids in muscle contraction, nerve transmission, cell signaling, and enzyme activation
- plays a role in blood clotting and blood pressure regulation
- part of the release of hormones
- 99% of the body’s calcium is stored in bones and teeth. Calcium is important for bone strength and remodeling, mineral homeostasis and the formation of red blood cells
The risk of osteoporosis increases as we age, not because we consume less calcium but because there is a decrease in cellular receptors and channels that transport calcium. Therefore, it is important to maintain sufficient calcium intake in order to maintain all of the functions listed above and fight osteoporosis from developing.
If you’re like me and you don’t like the taste of milk, check out this list of the Top 10 Calcium Rich Foods that you can incorporate into your diet. Some of my favorites are almond milk, kale, spinach, collard greens, broccoli, oranges, fortified cereals like Cheerios, and cheese.
There are various calcium supplements available, and their absorption rate is almost the exact same as that from milk. Note: there is an upper limit to calcium intake, which is 2500 mg/day. There are adverse effects when your intake reaches this threshold and it can cause constipation, chronic hypercalcemia-induced calcification of soft tissues, and possibly kidney stones. Talk to your doctor or dietitian to determine if this supplement could be beneficial to you.
Another important way to increase bone strength is by resistance training. Check out my post, Weight Lifting – It’s Not Just For the Boys to learn more!
“If you want to be happy for 5 minutes, take a nap. If you want to be happy for 2 weeks, take a vacation. If you want to be happy from time to time, have a drink. If you want to be happy continuously, keep creating a positive difference in the lives of others.” – Peter Wasowski