Calcium; We all need it to keep our bones strong and healthy, to aid muscle and nerve function, and to keep our hearts healthy. In addition, children need it for bone and muscle development. However, nearly 30% of men and 60% of women don’t get enough from their diets.
Risks of Not Getting Enough
When there isn’t enough in our bloodstream, our bodies are forced to draw it from our bones. Calcium deficit risks include weak hair and nails, fragile skin, muscle cramps, confusion, and tingling in the lips and fingers, and an increase in the risk of bone and teeth injuries. Adults that don’t consume enough calcium and thus have low bone density have an increased chance of osteoporosis. In particular, cancer patients run a major risk of developing osteoporosis from low bone mass. Insufficient amounts in children can lead to a low bone density throughout life. This not only increases the chances of bone fractures but also causes underdevelopment in children’s skeletal structures which can lead to osteoporosis in the future.
How Much Do I Need?
The amount of calcium your body needs to properly function ranges by age and health status.
For children, a general rule of thumb per day is
|Ages 1-3||700 mg|
|Ages 4-8||1,000 mg|
|Ages 9-18||1,300 mg|
Adults need slightly different amounts per day
|Men, Ages 19-70||1,000 mg||Women, Ages 19-50||1,000 mg|
|Men, Age 71 and older||1,200 mg||Women, Ages 51 and older||1,200 mg|
People that follow vegan or dairy-free diets and those that are lactose-intolerant are at greater risk for calcium deficiency. In addition, pregnant women need to consume extra as their body draws it from their bones and teeth to build their baby’s skeletal system.
What Foods Have Calcium Other Than Dairy?
There are many non-dairy calcium-rich foods such as…
- Soy milk
- Sweet potatoes
- Mustard/collard greens
- Butternut squash
- Sardines and canned salmon
- Most seeds (chia seeds, sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, etc.)
- Beans and lentils
- Fortified foods like cereals often have calcium added to them
How are you going to make sure you’re getting enough calcium?!
Harvard Health | Mayo Clinic | Healthline | Medical News Today
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