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Am I Getting Enough Calcium In My Diet? The Key To Long-Lasting Health

A woman drinking a large glass of milk

Am I Getting Enough Calcium In My Diet? The Key To Long-Lasting Health

Studies show that up to 90% of women and 70% of men don’t consume the recommended daily allowance of Calcium. A Calcium deficiency can lead to bone-related disorders later in life, and these risks increase exponentially with age. 

We’ve all seen those Got Milk? commercials, so we all know that calcium is vital to strong and healthy bones and teeth. In fact, 99 percent of our body’s calcium is used for structural support in our bones and teeth, while the remaining calcium is used for muscle function, nerve transmission, and hormone secretion. 

If you are like most adults, chances are you aren’t getting enough calcium in your diet. While focusing on Calcium-rich foods can help bridge the gap, they may not be enough to overcome the deficit, especially as you get older. 

Why Is Calcium Important?

Best known for its role in creating strong bones and healthy teeth, calcium is the most plentiful mineral in our body. Calcium also plays a vital role in preventing blood clots, muscle contracting, nerve function, and heart regulation. 

Your body needs to keep calcium in your blood and tissue to perform its daily functions. While Vitamin D also helps to increase bone health by assisting in Calcium absorption, your overall Calcium intake is essential. If your calcium levels get too low, your bones release this vital mineral into your bloodstream. Too much calcium in your blood can weaken your bones and cause kidney stones.

How Much Calcium Should You Get Daily?

Not everyone requires the same amount of calcium each day. Like most vitamins and minerals, your recommended calcium intake depends on age and gender. Here’s the recommended daily amount of calcium you need based on these factors:

  • Men between ages 19 and 70— 1000 milligrams (mg) daily.
  • Men ages 71 and above— 1200 mg daily.
  • Women between ages 19 and 50— 1000 mg daily. This includes pregnant and lactating women.
  • Women age 51 and above — 1200 mg daily.

Your kids also require more calcium as they age in order to support their growing body and bones.

  • Kids between ages 1 and 3— 700 mg daily.
  • Kids between 4 and 8— 1000 mg daily.
  • Kids and teens between 9 and 18— 1300 mg daily.

Consuming the recommended daily value of calcium protects your bones and teeth from deterioration over time. As you age, your bones begin to lose Calcium faster, and a higher dosage of Calcium is needed to supplement the loss. 

Do I Need More Calcium As I Get Older?

A chronic calcium deficiency can lead to bone-weakening osteoporosis, making it easier to fracture your hip, spine, and wrist. As the years go by and your risk of osteoporosis increases, your circulation begins to slow. With slower circulation and weakened bones, minor fractures that may have healed in a month in your youth may take years to heal or never fully heal at all. This is why Calcium becomes such an essential mineral for your body as you age. 

Why Do Women Need More Calcium Than Men?

Women are even more likely to develop osteoporosis with age. Because women tend to have smaller bones than men, they are more likely to develop osteoporosis without taking extra precautions to ensure they have more Calcium in their diet.

 Lower estrogen levels during menopause have an effect here as well. Estrogen plays an essential role in maintaining bone density, so the drop in estrogen that comes with menopause can increase the risk of osteoporosis significantly.  

Are You Getting Enough Calcium In Your Diet?

Most adults don’t get enough calcium to support their overall health, according to a study published by the Journal of the American Dietetic Association. 

“By age 50, daily calcium intake through food for most individuals, especially women, is substantially below recommended levels established by the Institute of Medicine. The situation becomes progressively worse across the 60-,70-, and 80- year age groups of Americans.” -Biostatistician Stephen J. Walsh

By age 50, most people’s daily calcium intake is far below the daily recommended value, and it gets even worse as they get older and their Calcium requirements increase. 

So how do you get the calcium you need each day?

While a diet of calcium-rich foods is vital for good health, you may still find it challenging to reach your daily calcium goals, especially as you age. To show this deficiency, let’s look at some calcium-rich foods that you can add to your diet and see how they add up.

5 Calcium-Rich Foods

1. Beans and Lentils (~55mg of Calcium per serving)

These healthy legumes are an excellent source of dietary calcium and other vital nutrients like protein, iron, magnesium, and potassium.

Beans and lentils are also excellent sources of fiber and may be able to lower your LDL cholesterol (the bad kind) as well as your risk of type 2 diabetes.

2. Leafy Greens (~101mg of Calcium per serving)

Leafy greens like kale, spinach, and collard greens are especially rich in calcium. Leafy greens are high in vitamins D, K, and C, as well as the B vitamin folate, also known as B9. Like beans and lentils, they’re also great sources of fiber.

However, while it is Popeye’s favorite food, there is something important to consider about spinach.

Spinach is high in compounds known as oxalates. These natural compounds bind to calcium and can impair calcium absorption. Because of this, your body won’t absorb the calcium in spinach as well as it would the calcium from other greens like kale and collard greens— which are low in these oxalates.

3. Almonds (~62mg of Calcium per serving)

Did you know that out of all nuts, almonds have the highest amount of calcium? In fact, just one ounce of almonds will provide 6 percent of your daily recommended value of calcium.

Almonds are also a great source of Vitamin D, enhancing your body’s ability to absorb calcium. 

They may also help reduce high blood pressure and reduce your risk of metabolic disease.

4. Seeds (~127mg of Calcium per serving)

Seeds may be tiny, but many, including chia seeds, sesame seeds, and poppy seeds, are excellent sources of calcium.

Seeds are also excellent sources of protein and healthy fats. Chia seeds are especially high in omega-3 fatty acids, which can help prevent heart disease.

5. Dairy Products (~305mg of Calcium per serving)

It’s well-known that dairy products like milk, cheese, and yogurt are excellent sources of calcium. Cheese can offer anywhere from 4 and 19 percent of your daily value of calcium, while yogurt can provide a whopping 23-34 percent of your daily intake! As you’ve probably heard from all those “Got Milk?” commercials, a cup of milk can provide around 25 percent of your daily value of calcium.

The Limitations Of Calcium-Rich Foods

While all these foods contain a high amount of calcium, the numbers still fall short of your recommended daily intake. Even if you were to prioritize a Calcium-rich diet, a single serving of each of the foods mentioned above only amounts to ~650mg of Calcium a day, leaving you roughly 350mg short of the recommended value. 

If you are lactose intolerant or on a plant-based diet, getting the calcium your body needs may be even more challenging to ensure strong bones and long-lasting health. While there are many alternative options to get calcium in your diet, focusing on Calcium-rich foods every day is not a realistic expectation and can be nearly impossible to achieve! 

While getting the calcium you need in your diet seems like the more traditional way to do things, it’s not the easiest way to get your daily recommended value.

A healthy Calcium supplement can cover the shortcomings in your daily diet and make it easier for you to reach your daily Calcium requirements!

Looking for a Calcium Supplement? Try Alka•Cal

There are a lot of calcium supplements on the market. The correct calcium supplement can make all the difference to your health, but not all supplements give your body what it needs to use that calcium to the fullest. 

That’s why we recommend taking Alka•Cal. Our advanced Calcium Complex has been formulated with calcium citrate and microcrystalline calcium hydroxyapatite— which supports healthy bones, stronger muscles and reduces fatigue in your body.

Alka•Cal also contains vital nutrients like magnesium, zinc, and phosphorus to help your body absorb calcium more efficiently.

No Bones About It: Calcium Supplements Are The Easiest Solution For Long Lasting Health

Around 10 million Americans fail to maintain their Calcium intake and suffer from osteoporosis as a result. While plenty of nutritious foods are high in Calcium, reaching your daily goal is still unfeasible. Calcium supplements are the fastest and most effective method to ensure your bones remain strong and healthy as you age. 

Want to learn more about how the Morter HealthSystem can help you and your whole family— including your pets— achieve your B.E.S.T possible health? Let us know— we’d love to hear from you!

Citations

  1. Saccone, Julie. “Benefits of Calcium before Bed | Livestrong.” LIVESTRONG.COM, Leaf Group, www.livestrong.com/article/547625-benefits-of-calcium-before-bed/.
  2. Poitras, Colin. “Study Shows Many Older Americans Not Getting Sufficient Calcium.” UConn Today, 1 June 2011, today.uconn.edu/2011/05/study-shows-many-older-americans-not-getting-sufficient-calcium/. 
  3. Balk EM, Adam. “Global dietary calcium intake among adults: a systematic review”; International Osteoporosis Foundation Calcium Steering Committee, Dec 28, 2017 https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5684325/
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