Calcium may be a small mineral but it has a huge effect on your ability to stay healthy and strong as you age.
Calcium is the most abundant mineral in your body and 99% of it is stored in your bones and teeth. The other 1%—while small in comparison—plays an outsized role in keeping you alive and functioning. It helps you contract muscles, transmit nerve signals, secrete hormones and enzymes, and maintain blood pressure.
Don’t Break Open the Calcium Bank:
You deposit excess calcium in your bones and teeth until age thirty, which means you have three decades to get them as strong as possible.
After thirty, the calcium in your diet just circulates in your blood. If you don’t consume enough, your body breaks into your calcium bank and pulls it out of your bones. Like a burglar. The more frequently it robs your bones, the weaker they get and the more likely they are to break. You don’t mess with calcium. Or Texas. Or the Zohan (alright fine, you can mess with the Zohan).
Most adults need about 1,000 milligrams per day. Refer to the National Institutes of Health for recommendations for children, older adults, and women who are pregnant or lactating.
Vitamin D is calcium’s best friend (they’re like Bert and Ernie); it promotes absorption and helps prevent osteoporosis. You get some vitamin D from the sun, and some from foods like egg yolks, saltwater fish, and fortified foods like milk, ready-to-eat breakfast cereals, and beverages. Since many people are deficient, it’s a good idea to get your levels checked.
Good Sources include dairy products; calcium-fortified foods like rice milk, almond milk, breakfast cereals, orange juice and tofu, fish with soft bones you can eat (think: canned sardines and salmon), chia seeds, and leafy green vegetables.
Note: A version of this post originally appeared on HealthWarrior.com (I write nutrition content for their website/e-mail list)
Want to get more calcium in your diet? Here are a few recipes you might like: