Michael van Straten
Michael van Straten
australiaphen375.com

Calcium

Calcium is a vital mineral for the formation and continuing strength of bones and teeth. This is of even greater importance during pregnancy, breast-feeding, childhood and for the teenager. In later life women are at risk of osteoporosis (brittle bone disease), which is caused by a combination of too little calcium in the diet and poor absorption.

The time to do something positive about protecting bones is in childhood. A diet which contains lots of calcium rich foods is the first step. Encourage children to be active, play sport, get plenty of fresh air and sunshine. As you get older, these all become even more important, pregnant and nursing mothers need to have a good store of calcium, and to take extra care of their own eating habits. When you reach the thirties make a super effort to keep up some sort of regular exercise regime. It should be weight bearing, to strengthen the bones, like tennis, dancing, keep-fit, walking or even energetic housework.

The menopause is a crucial time. All the symptoms are only too obvious. All, that is, except those of osteoporosis. Now's the time for extra calcium with vitamin D. Calcium also plays a role in relieving the symptoms of PMS, helps to prevent muscle cramp and is important as a regulator of the heart rate and blood clotting.

A glass of milk, a carton of yoghurt and 60 g of cheese will provide the 1000 mg of calcium you should get each day. Do use the low fat versions and eat plenty of tinned sardines, with the bones, lots of greens and dried fruit, nuts, beans, and plenty of watercress and parsley. Your body needs sunlight to make vitamin D, without which it can't absorb the calcium, so get into the great outdoors and eat plenty of oily fish, the best nutritional source of D.

Dairy products contain the most easily absorbed calcium though there's virtually none in butter, double cream or cream cheese. Some vegetables like spinach and beet greens contain oxalic acid which prevents the absorption of calcium and wholegrain cereals, nuts and pulses contain phytic acid which can also interfere with calcium absorption. Sprinkling bran all over your breakfast cereals seriously reduces the calcium you absorb from the milk for the same reason.

One of the worst things that interferes with calcium absorption are colas and other fizzy drinks which contain phosphoric acid that seriously increases the amount of calcium eliminated by the body. Calcium absorption is also a major problem for anyone with inflammatory bowel diseases like Crohn's disease, Celiac disease and colitis. People with these conditions need supplements.

Although the RDA is 800 mg per day, the optimum intake should be 1000 mg, rising to 1200 during pregnancy and breast-feeding. The cheapest form of calcium supplements are made from calcium carbonate but the body can't get much of the calcium from these products. It's far more effective to pay a little more for calcium citrate from which your body extracts twice as much of the mineral.


BEST SOURCES

CHEESE, e.g. EMMENTHAL
970 mg / 100 g
Percentage of daily requirement: 72% from average 60 g portion
Calcium score: 7/10

Canned sardines - eat bones
500 mg / 100 g
Percentage of daily requirement: 62% from average 100 g portion
Calcium score: 6/10

Tofu
510 mg / 100 g
Percentage of daily requirement: 72% from average 115 g portion
Calcium score: 7/10

Seaweed
900 mg / 100 g
Percentage of daily requirement: 56% from average 50 g portion
Calcium score: 5/10

Sesame seeds
670 mg / 100 g
Percentage of daily requirement: 16% from average 20 g portion
Calcium score: 2/10

Almonds,
240 mg / 100 g
Percentage of daily requirement: 15% from average 50 g portion
Calcium score: 2/10

Figs
230 mg / 100 g
Percentage of daily requirement: 32% from average 110 g portion
Calcium score: 3/10

Yoghurt
190 mg / 100 g
Percentage of daily requirement: 35% from average 150 g portion
Calcium score: 4/10

Semi Skimmed Milk
120 mg / 100 g
Percentage of daily requirement: 88% from half a litre
Calcium score: 9/10


FOOD
10.9 mg / 100 g
Percentage of daily requirement: % from average 150 g portion
Calcium score: 10/10

 

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