Published: 12/17/2014 - Updated: 03/08/2020
Author: Dra. Loredana Lunadei, PhD
Who hasn’t heard their mother say when they were small “drink your milk, it’s calcium for your bones”. That phrase has surely been a part of your life at some point in time. And it’s true; calcium is a mineral that circulates in blood and is decisive in several bodily functions, like bone strength, keeping cardiac rhythm, and nerve transmissions or coagulation.
Calcium during childhood
Around half of our bones are formed during childhood, which is why we should store as much as possible. That is the only way to build a strong skeleton and to prevent future problems that will lead to breaks, pains or bone deterioration.
If your diet does not include calcium, you could develop brittle bones. The question is, is this element found only in dairy? No, it is also present in legumes, some vegetables, and dried fruit.
Fruit with calcium
Calcium can be found in milk and its derivatives, like yogurt and cheeses. These aren’t the only forms, however, but they are they are famous for being the best sources of calcium.
There are vegetables that have just as much, if not more, of this mineral, than the aforementioned foods: they are: sesame, black molasses, dried fruit, and legumes in general. It is also found in smaller amounts in cabbage, broccoli, spinach and oranges. Some fish, like sardines, salmon, red sea bream, sole, and anchovies, also have it. We should also point out that seafood, like oysters, clams and lobsters do as well.
We really do need to stress that absorbing calcium from plant sources is not as effective as calcium from dairy. This is because there are substances in these foods that could interfere with absorption, and therefore effectiveness. You then need to keep in mind that if you consume plant-based calcium, that you should add another food that contains vitamin D, as well as proteins and dairy, which are substances that are present in dairy and help promote calcium absorption.
Greater Calcium Consumption
Children and adolescents cannot go without this mineral, as it contributes to their growth.
Another group of individuals that should increase their calcium consumption are pregnant women, to help benefit the fetus they are developing.
Women who are breastfeeding should also make calcium a priority, because it is one of the primary components in mother’s milk.
Older people are also an at risk group as their intestinal function deteriorates, making calcium absorption more difficult.
We should also point out that human beings store calcium in their body up until an average age of 30 years old.
Osteoporosis and rickets
One consequence of low calcium absorption for a long time is bone demineralization, which carries with it, bone decalcification. This makes bones fragile, increasing the risk of fractures in the femur, radius, ulna, and vertebral discs, among others. It could also be the beginning of diseases like osteoporosis.
During infancy and childhood bone growth can be compromised. In extreme cases, small children will suffer from rickets, a disorder that causes bone deformities due to a lack of vitamin D.
Do not forget
Remember, calcium protects you from osteoporosis, helps form tooth enamel, and prevent cavities. Consuming it lowers cholesterol, which prevent cardiovascular diseases. We should also mention that in prevents colon cancer and helps deep sleep.
If you want your body to absorb all the benefits of calcium, avoid consuming coffee, alcohol, and do not to exercise so as to counteract the stress caused by work burdens.
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