Calcium is an important mineral required by our body. About 99% of the body’s calcium is stored in bones, with the remaining 1% found in blood, muscle, and other tissues.
Calcium is most commonly associated with strong bones and teeth. It also plays a role in many other important functions of the body such as aiding in blood clotting, helping muscles to contract, regulating heartbeats, and optimising nerve functions.
Eating a diet deficient in calcium means the body will extract the calcium it needs from the bones and teeth. This leads to loss of bone mass and eventually brittle bones which lead to osteoporosis.
Sources of calcium
It is a common assumption that calcium is only found in dairy-based food products such as milk, cheese, and yoghurt. While they are probably the best sources of calcium, there are other alternatives as well.
Soy milk that is fortified with calcium carbonate contains almost the same amount of calcium as the equivalent volume of cow’s milk. Soy is a great source of calcium.
Tofu is another good source of calcium. It must be noted though that different textures and firmness of tofu yield different calcium contents.
Leafy green vegetables are another great source of calcium. The added benefit is that these vegetables are also high in vitamins and antioxidants.
Almonds contain a large amount of calcium. However, the downside is that it is relatively high in calories and fat content in relation to the content of calcium.
Oranges and orange juice provide calcium as well. Some juices are calcium-fortified that increases the benefit.
Calcium-fortified foods are foods that have added calcium added to them to improve nutrition. Most of these fortified foods will be clearly labelled and include cereals, snack bars, bread, and some soft drinks. Some bottled waters also have calcium added to them. Look out for these calcium-fortified food products the next time you go shopping but make sure you read the nutrition label as well to make an educated choice. Some of these calcium-fortified products may have an undesirably high content of sugar and sodium as well.
Calcium supplements are widely available in the market and can be a good source of calcium intake. Supplements that contain calcium carbonate tend to be the best value as they contain a high amount of elemental calcium (about 40% by weight). Do consult your doctor before taking calcium supplements.
Book an appointment at Gleneagles Hospitals
To get more information on your calcium intake and professional advice on your calcium requirements and other dietary requirements, contact your doctor and the team of dietitians at your nearest Gleneagles Hospital about your daily nutrition requirements.
To make an appointment for health screening, please contact the health screening centre at the Gleneagles Hospital nearest to you.