This post may contain affiliate links which won’t change your price but will share some commission.
Calcium is a well known mineral that is famous for its role in bone and connective tissue health. Did you know it also has some other roles in the body?
Calcium is also important in the following body systems:
- Proper function of the nervous sytem.
- Helps regulate blood pressure.
- It is part of the process of blood clotting.
- Important for the maintenance of healthy tissues throughout the body.
- Important for digestive health.
- Significant in the prevention of colon and breast cancer.
How Should We Get Calcium?
Another thing we all tend to know is that calcium is present in dairy products. All forms of milk, whole, skim, and 2% milk all have the same amounts of calcium. It is also in yogurt and hard cheeses, with lesser amounts in soft cheeses.
But what if you can’t tolerate dairy?
There are some good alternatives for the dairy free individual.
- dandelion greens,
- soy products like soybeans and tofu contain natural calcium although you may want to limit your amounts of soy for other reasons. (What you do eat make sure it is organic as 90% of soy is GMO.)
- dairy free milk alternatives all have some calcium including soy, almond, rice, and hemp milk.
- shellfish- clams, shrimp, oysters, and mussels.
- seaweeds- all sea vegetables have calcium in a bioavailable form.
- canned fish- salmon and sardines also have essential fatty acids.
- bone broth
Other vegetables may be promoted as having calcium but most of the dark green leafy vegetables which contain calcium also have high levels of oxalic acid, which binds with calcium, and makes it less available to the body.
What about Supplementing with Calcium?
According to Chris Kresser, we need to think twice about calcium supplements. He highly recommends that we get our calcium from real food. Not only does it not really help with bone health (per some studies done in 2007 and 2012, it also comes with some serious health risks. Calcium supplements may increase the risk of heart disease (in contrast to dietary calcium). An analysis involving 12,000 men published in JAMA Internal Medicine found that intakes of over 1,000 mg of supplemental calcium per day (from multivitamins or individual supplements) were associated with a 20% increase in the risk of death from CVD. 1
The suspected problem with supplements is that they may dump too much calcium into the blood stream all at once, which may cause calcification of the arteries. 2 When calcium is obtained through food, then it absorbs much more slowly. And calcium that is not absorbed into the bones is excreted out of the body through the urine, which has the potential for causing kidney stones. (Something I went through and believe was caused by my calcium supplements. After experiencing kidney stones I stopped supplementing and went to only dietary calcium. I have had no further problems and it has been 5 years or so.)
So do you consciously try and get calcium in your diet? Do you supplement? What do you think about this information?
For more information:
Bratianu, Patricia. “Nutritional Updates for Nurses.” p.84.