Calcium is an essential part of a healthy lifestyle. In addition to building and keeping your teeth and bones strong, this mineral also regulates heart beat, blood pressure and helps with blood coagulation.
Why do you need calcium?
Although your body greatly relies on calcium, it is unable to produce it and therefore must count on food and supplements to deliver the required dose. If you don’t consume the necessary amount of calcium daily, your body will begin dipping into its calcium reserves (the bones) and take the quantity it needs in order to keep itself healthy. Over time, these calcium reserves will deplete, leaving your bones weak and susceptible to breaking.
Osteoporosis and you
Osteoporosis, literally “porous bones”, causes bones to become weak and brittle—so brittle that regular daily activities like walking, bending down, sneezing, etc., may cause fractures. The development of this condition is directly related the strength of your bones—which depends on how large and dense they become before you turn 35—and how quickly they weaken. With age, we all lose bone mass, especially post-menopausal women; but if you start off with bigger, denser bones, they will remain stronger, longer.
While genes play an important role in determining the size and density of your bones, you can help nature along by keeping your bones healthy. Here’s how:
Meet your daily calcium needs; dairy products are a great source of calcium, but be sure to also include almonds, beans, broccoli, kale, oranges and canned salmon in your diet, as they too are rich in calcium.Here is how much you need:
Meet your daily vitamin D requirement; vitamin D helps your body absorb calcium.
Exercise regularly; engage in activities that make your muscles work against gravity.
Don’t smoke; smoking increases bone loss.
Limit your alcohol intake; alcohol reduces the body’s ability to absorb calcium. Do not exceed two alcoholic drinks per day.
Cut back on caffeine; two to three cups of coffee are OK if you eat a calcium rich diet.
Supplement your diet; if you are consistently struggling to meet your daily calcium needs, consider taking a calcium supplement with added vitamin D. Be careful: there is such a thing as too much calcium—it can cause kidney stones, constipation and nausea—but you can safely consume up to 2000mg of the mineral per day.