Calcium is a mineral that is important for several bodily functions. In addition to keeping bones and teeth strong and healthy, aids calcium also in proper functioning of muscles, nerves and heart. When there is lack of calcium in the blood, the body absorbs calcium from the bones, thus making them weak. Osteoporosis is a common condition that causes weakening of the bones and a high incidence of fractures. Dairy products and more vegetables are good sources of calcium.
Milk, cheese and yogurt are some of the dairy products that provide large amounts of calcium. However, it is important to monitor the consumption of dairy products containing a lot of fat. According to the Harvard School of Public Health, a high intake of dairy products may increase the risk of developing prostate and ovarian cancer. The recommendation is to limit dairy products to one or two daily servings, and increasing your intake of calcium-rich vegetables.
Vitamin D is essential for the absorption and assimilation of calcium in our body. Therefore, foods that are high in both vitamin D and calcium can give maximum effect. Fish such as salmon and sardines are sources of both these nutrients and fatty acids.
Tofu is a source of calcium and protein. When buying tofu, check the food label to ensure that it has calcium sulfate, increasing the calcium content. Calcium-rich tofu may also be available under the description “calcium-set tofu.”
Calcium-fortified soy or rice beverages and orange juice are good sources of vitamin D and calcium. These drinks are especially beneficial for people with lactose intolerance.
Among vegetables, some of the best sources of calcium are green vegetables, broccoli, spinach, turnip greens, kale, Chinese cabbage or bok choy, mustard greens and okra. These vegetables are sources of essential vitamins, minerals and dietary fiber. Broccoli, kale and collard greens are also sources of vitamin K, which aids the regulation of calcium in the body and enhances bone formation. However, these vegetables do not contain vitamin D, and most of them contain large amounts of vitamin A. According to the Harvard School of Public Health, high levels of vitamin A may contribute to bone loss.
Almonds are a source of calcium, vitamins and essential fatty acids. Trail mix that contains seeds and nuts are another healthy choice for improving calcium intake.