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15 Calcium Rich Foods To Prevent Osteoporosis

Calcium Rich Foods To Prevent Osteoporosis
Calcium Rich Foods To Prevent Osteoporosis

Calcium is the most abundant mineral in the human body and has relatively high consumption recommendations, since it is essential for the formation and maintenance of bones and teeth. Calcium also plays an important role in other body functions, such as the production of hormones, the formation of some tissues, blood clotting, muscle contraction, and relaxation movements, and the correct functioning of neurons in sending nerve signals. Our body is unable to synthesize calcium; therefore eating foods rich in calcium becomes essential.

Calcium is a macro-mineral present in the body of all living beings, although with differences in terms of quantity. In plants, for example, calcium represents 0.007% of their mass; but in animals, this percentage rises to 2.45%.

In other words, 2.45% of our body are calcium, which remains dissolved in our body tissues, both solid (especially bone) and liquid (such as blood). It is, therefore, the most abundant mineral in our body.

Being a very vital mineral its basic needs are covered during childhood and adolescence. In addition, during pregnancy and lactation, calcium needs to increase significantly.

In old age, it is also very important to have adequate levels of calcium in the body, in order to replace the losses that occur of this mineral, as for example in osteoporosis.

Daily Recommended Calcium Intake

Maintaining adequate levels of calcium can help prevent osteoporosis, a disease that occurs due to loss of bone mass that occurs due to weak bones, especially in women and from the age of 50. In another sense, an excess of this mineral can lead to the appearance of complications such as constipation, a greater difficulty in absorbing other minerals, such as iron, and a predisposition to develop kidney stones.

Of the total calcium contained in food, only between 20% -40% of the total is absorbed. Its absorption improves with the presence of vitamin D, lactose, fatproteinsvitamin C, and acid medium. Hence, the foods with the best calcium bioavailability are milk and dairy products.

The recommended calcium intake varies depending on age, since a baby or child, who is in the full stage of bone development and growth does not have the same needs as an adult. In addition, calcium consumption is needed to be increased during pregnancy and from a certain age (around 70 years).

The recommended intakes are different according to age:

  • 500 mg for a baby
  • 700 mg for a very young child (4-6 years)
  • 900 mg for a young child (7-9 years)
  • 1200 mg for a child and a teenager (10-19 years)
  • 900 mg for an adult
  • 1200 mg for an elderly person and women after menopause (after 55 years)

Why Calcium Is Important For Our Body

Eating foods rich in calcium is essential because, in the first place, the body is not able to synthesize calcium. That is, the mineral has to come from the consumption of other living beings (both animals and plants). Secondly, it participates in many physiological processes. Proof of this is that it represents 2.45% of our body.

What are the physiological activities calcium involved? It is impossible to cover all the functions of calcium, but here are the most important ones, seeing its positive impact on the different systems of the body.

·        Skeletal System: 2.45% of our body is calcium but of this 2.45%, 99% of the calcium is found in the bones and teeth. This mineral is a fundamental part of the bone matrix, so it is essential to give bone and dental tissue the hardness and resistance they need. Therefore, if we do not take in enough calcium, bone density is lost.

·        Nervous System: Neurons communicate with each other through a process known as a synapse, which allows the transmission of electrical impulses throughout the nervous system. In addition to many other molecules, the synapse depends on calcium for it to happen properly.

·        Muscular System: All muscle contraction and relaxation functions (both voluntary control muscles and involuntary movement muscles) depend on calcium, which is the mineral that stimulates them.

·        Cardiovascular System: As we have said, calcium allows involuntary muscle contractions and relaxations. Therefore, the heartbeat also depends on this mineral. Without adequate amounts, you cannot maintain an optimal heart rate.

·        Blood Circulatory System: As we have already mentioned, calcium is also found in liquid tissues of the body. In the blood, there are dissolved calcium ions that are essential to stimulate all blood clotting processes in the event of cuts or wounds.

·        Endocrine System: Calcium is essential for all the physiological processes that take place within the endocrine glands and that culminate in the synthesis and release of hormones, that is, all those molecules that stimulate and coordinate the physiology of our organs.

In summary, we can say that, without calcium, the functioning of all our systems collapses. It is no coincidence that 2.45% of our body is calcium, since from maintaining healthy bones to stimulating the activity of our heart; calcium is involved in countless metabolic reactions.

What Are The Best Sources Of Calcium?

Having seen its importance and taking into account that the body cannot synthesize it, it is quite clear that it must be achieved through diet. Therefore, here are the foods that are the best sources of calcium. It should be remembered that the WHO recommendation is to take about 900 mg of calcium a day, which can amount to 1,000 mg in older people.

It is also very important to bear in mind that there are foods that block the absorption of this mineral from the intestines. We are talking about chocolate, salt, caffeine, sugar, strawberries, beets, spinach, calcium, cereals, legumes, soft drinks, fatty, and ultra-processed cheeses.

It does not mean that they should be removed from the diet. In fact, some of them are tremendously healthy and have to be part of your diet. The only thing to keep in mind is not to combine them with the products that we will see below, because if they are eaten together, we will not absorb all the calcium that these foods provide us.

Nevertheless, these are the best sources of calcium that we can find in nature. We have sorted them by calcium content. The figures indicated correspond to milligrams of calcium per 100 grams of the food in question.

1. Cheese: (up to 850 mg)

Cheeses are the most abundant source of calcium. Anyway, the exact contribution will depend on the type of cheese. Gruyere, Roquefort, and Emmental are the ones that have the most calcium since their amount ranges between 560 and 850 mg per 100 grams of the product. Others like the Manchego come to have 470 mg of calcium per 100 gr. The problem is that these are also the fattest, so you should be careful with their consumption. The healthiest ones have amounts around 120 mg, which is already very good.

2. Sardines: (470 mg)

As surprising as it may sound, sardines, especially those that are canned, are nature's second-best source of calcium. This is due to the fact that it is a soft-boned fish, so with the thermal procedures to which they are subjected for consumption, they cause the calcium from their bones to pass into the meat. 100 gram of this blue fish provides 470 mg of calcium. Moreover taking into account its contribution to healthy fatty acids, they should not be missing in our diet.

3. Almonds and Hazelnuts: (240 mg)

Almond is the richest dried fruit in calcium. As it does not contain water, all its nutrients and minerals are more concentrated, that is, there are a large number of nutrients in small portions. In addition to calcium, they are rich in magnesium, an element that also helps maintain healthy bones. Almonds and hazelnuts are the best sources of calcium of plant origin in nature, so in case you do not want to take products of animal origin, they cannot be missing from our diet. 100 grams of these two products provide us with 240 mg of calcium.

4. Crustaceans: (220 mg)

Crustaceans are another source of calcium of animal origin that comes from the sea. Prawns, shrimp, and scampi are a fantastic source of calcium. 100 grams of its meat provide us with about 220 mg of calcium.

5. Yogurt: (180 mg)

We return to dairy products, famous for being a source of calcium. In the case of yogurt, we are facing the fifth-best source of calcium, because although it depends on the type of yogurt, the milk with which it is manufactured, and the processes it follows, and the calcium content ranges between 130 and 180 mg for each 100 gr.

6. Dried Figs: (180 Mg)

Figs are the fruit that contains the most calcium. Therefore, it is the second most important source of calcium of plant origin, behind almonds and hazelnuts. Their calcium content increases when they are taken after a drying process, which allows the amount of calcium to be about 180 mg per 100 g of fruit, very similar to yogurt.

7. Chickpeas: (145 mg)

Chickpeas are a key legume in any Mediterranean diet. It is a food of plant origin that, among many other benefits, is a magnificent source of calcium. For every 100 grams of chickpeas, they provide us with 140 mg of calcium. The problem is that being a legume, we may have problems absorbing it. Therefore, it offers a lot of calcium, but not everything is assimilated. This can be solved by immersing them in water for 12 hours before consuming them so that the calcium can be absorbed more effectively.

8. Custard: (140 mg)

Custards are dairy derivatives and, as such, are a very good source of calcium. Again, we would have to watch the fat intake, but the truth is that every 100 gram of product, we get about 140 mg of calcium.

9. Pistachios: (136 mg)

Pistachios are nuts with many health benefits, especially in terms of healthy fatty acids, but they are also a magnificent source of calcium. In fact, 100 gram of product provides 136 mg of calcium, even more than milk.

10. Milk: (130 mg)

It may be surprising that milk ranks 10th on this list. We have taken cow's milk as a representative, as it is the most consumed. This, in its liquid version (without making derivatives), provides about 10 mg of calcium per 100 gram of product. It is a magnificent source, but, as we have seen, it is neither the only nor the best.

11. White Beans: (130 Mg)

White beans are legumes that, in addition to being a fantastic source of fiber, contain the same amount of calcium as milk: 130 mg per 100 g of product. The problem is that this calcium is not so easily assimilated by the body as it is a legume. Again, they should be soaked in water 12 hours before consumption so that the calcium can be absorbed more effectively.

12. Mollusks: (120 mg)

Mollusks, especially clams and cockles, are an excellent source of calcium that comes from the sea. About 100 grams of these products provide about 120 mg of calcium, in a very similar way to cow's milk. In addition to calcium, they are an important source of iron and iodine.

13. Green Leafy Vegetables: (114 mg)

Spinach, chard, leek, and the rest of green leafy vegetables have a high amount of calcium compared to other plants, which we remember that they do not stand out for their calcium content. These have enough and, depending on the type, the amount of calcium ranges between 87 and 114 mg per 100 gram of product. The problem is that the body appears to have trouble absorbing calcium when it comes from this source.

14. Walnuts: (70 mg)

Walnuts are another of the nuts with the highest amount of calcium. This is already lower than what we've seen on the list, but it's still a fantastic plant-based source of calcium. In fact, 100 grams of walnuts provide about 70 mg of calcium.

15. Olives: (63 mg)

We close our list with olives, which are the fruit of the olive tree. They are a fantastic plant-based source of calcium, although you should be careful because they are quite caloric foods (despite what you can hear, they do not have cholesterol). Be that as it may, 100 grams of olives provide about 63 mg of calcium, so they can be a very good complement to the diet.

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