It’s not just for your bones!
Most people associate
the mineral calcium with healthy bones. A lot of people also think that adequate calcium intake is more of a concern for women than it is for men. While it’s true that the primary function of calcium in the body is to maintain healthy bone structure, you may not know that calcium performs many important functions for everybody. Calcium helps muscles contract, helps blood to clot, helps the nervous system to function properly, and is important in maintaining healthy blood pressure.
Many people do not take in the recommended intake of calcium from foods. Some people don’t like dairy products, or think they are fattening, (some products, like cheese, are high in calories and fat, and certain yogurts are high in calories because of the sugar content). Other people think “milk is for kids.” Still others cannot tolerate the sugar in milk (called lactose) so they shy away from dairy products.
The good news is that calcium is found in other foods besides dairy products. But even so, most people have a hard time meeting the recommended 1,000 mg for men and women up to the age of 50, and 1,200 mg per day for people age 50 and up. This is where supplements can help to meet your needs, not as a replacement for a poor diet, but as a way to supplement a nutritionally well-balanced one.
Look at the food and supplement sources on the chart below. It lists the amount of calcium per serving. Pay attention to how much calcium you get compared with how many calories the food has. Keep a list for three separate days, and add up your total intake. If you fall short of the recommendation, see how you can increase your intake from foods and supplements to meet your needs.