So you know you’re supposed to get your calcium. But what is the most yummy way to get it?
Calcium is important to bone health, even if you’re not an athlete. It’s not how much you take in, it’s about how much you lose. Confused?
Well, in North America, we take so many other things in our diet, like sodium and additives to junk food that it leaches calcium out of our bones and out of what we eat. The recommended amount of calcium is between 1100 to 1300 mg per day for adults here, but just 175 to 140 mg per day for adults living in undeveloped countries. Here’s how to get the most out of every yummy bite.
Animal protein, even milk, which contains calcium, helps to cause excessive calcium loss. So does eating too much sugar, salt, and antibiotics.
Lowering the amount of animal protein can reduce calcium loss by as much as 30 percent, which is why vegetarians who get complete protein from plants have very high bone density. This is because the body produces an acid when it’s breaking down the protein. The body has to protect tissues against this acid, and calcium is taken out of bones as a result.
Phosphorus in meat and soft drinks also leaches calcium, increasing the risk of hip fractures and osteoporosis. Try eating combinations of beans of all sorts with rice, or squash, beans and corn for complete, non-animal protein. Tofu burgers and ‘just-like-ground-meat tofu’ are a great change from the everyday.
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So if drinking more milk won’t do the deed, what will? Calcium doesn’t work all by itself to build bones, so it’s a good idea to see what other things you’re including in your diet. For instance, are you getting enough magnesium? Magnesium absorption helps to drawn calcium into the bone, which is why calcium supplements are usually sold as Cal-Mag combinations. Magnesium also helps to stimulate hormones that keep existing bone intact, as well as speed recovery of bones that break down.
Magnesium is found in leafy green vegetables, such as kale and broccoli. Try to avoid vegetables which contain oxalates, such as spinach. Oxalates are compounds which prevent calcium absorption.
Vitamin C is also needed for bone building and repair. Vitamin C increases calcium absorption and enhances the effects of Vitamin D. Vitamin D is needed to help to body absorb and deposit calcium into bone tissue. Magnesium helps to convert Vitamin D into its active form for this purpose. Vitamin C can’t just be found in oranges and grapefruits, though. A single kiwi has more vitamin C than 10 oranges!
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