Calcium is an essential nutrient used in the body to help maintain bone mass which supports your entire body. It is also used in the heart, blood, muscles and nerves. Diets that do not include enough calcium or do not replace what the body uses cause the body to take calcium from other places, like your bones. It’s estimated that 70% of people don’t get enough calcium in their diet, and it is especially important to maintain calcium stores during weight loss.
How Much Calcium Do I Need?
A new study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition reported the findings of 44 overweight women with an average age of 38 on a restricted-calorie diet. The women consumed the recommended calcium intake and results showed that their bone health remained normal during the weight loss.(1) The study showed that women do not lose bone density during moderate weight loss when they have adequate calcium intake.
Recommended Daily Intake
Calcium is the most abundant mineral in your body. The intake recommendations for calcium are provided by the Food and Nutrition Board and the Institute of Medicine of the National Academies. RDA or Recommended Dietary Allowance is the average daily level of intake sufficient to meet the nutrient requirements of healthy individuals. The RDA of Calcium for Women ages 19-50 is 1,000 mg, and for women over 50 the RDA is 1,200mg.(2) Many people take calcium supplements, but the best place to get nutrients is from whole, natural foods.
Foods That Contain Calcium
High calcium foods include low-fat dairy products like cheese and yogurt along with beans, tofu, salmon, and nuts like almonds. Getting lots of fresh fruits and vegetables in your diet also helps keep calcium levels up for strong, healthy bones. Calcium absorption is affected by a number of other factors including sweating, caffeine intake as well as the consumption of other nutrients and important minerals. For example, high-sodium diets increase the excretion of calcium from the body in urine, and some studies have shown that high protein diets increase intestinal calcium absorption. A great calcium source that’s easy to make, versatile and also contains all 9 essential amino acids is the cereal grain Quinoa. Pick some up here, today!
Oxalic acid is found in many green vegetables including spinach, chard, beet greens, chocolate, collards, some berries and nuts. This compound binds to calcium and makes it unavailable to the body.
Phytates are compounds that bind to minerals, including calcium and iron and prevent their absorption in the body. Foods that contain phytates include pinto beans, navy beans, black beans, kidney beans and peas.
Tannins are an acidic compound that also binds to calcium in the body. These compounds are found in some teas, and red wine and trace amounts are found in pomegranates, cranberries, blueberries, strawberries, some nuts and red legumes.
Diets with an excess of protein and sodium can also cause the body to eliminate additional calcium. By consuming large amount of meats including poultry, fish, eggs, and beans you might find that you have an excess of protein in your body. Processed foods like canned soups, deli meat and frozen foods contain high amounts of sodium. Also avoiding sauces like soy sauce and mustard can help keep your sodium levels within normal range.