We’re told we need to have calcium, but what is the real deal on how to get it? Are supplements the only way to get enough? What foods are good sources of calcium?
I’m a woman nearing 50; I am told my need for calcium actually increases with age, but I’m not a real fan of dairy products. Dairy products dislike me, even more than I dislike them, so I definitely had to find other options. Problem number two… I hate taking supplements. I have a, truly, over active gag reflex, so taking supplements is NOT comfortable. In fact, I have often wondered how many cases of “death by choking on a vitamin” there really are in the world! All of these questions, and more, have left me wondering, “Am I at risk for a calcium deficiency?” So, How much calcium are you getting?
A Case for Calcium
A certain amount of bone loss occurs as we age; this is especially true for postmenopausal women. There are so many factors that cause us to lose calcium, so we need to replenish our bodies daily. Osteoporosis is a serious concern and we want to build strong bodies now, so we will be strong in the future. We can age well, or we can live our later years wishing we’d been better to these wonderful bodies we’ve been given.
Calcium in food, regular exercise and adequate intakes of magnesium and vitamin D are critical to the development and maintenance of healthy bones throughout your life. Weight-bearing exercises (such as walking and running) AND resistance exercises (like lifting weights or calisthenics) support bone health.
There are more options than you think!
The good news is that there’s calcium in foods that you may not even realize are great sources for calcium. I would love to share with you a few of my favorite foods with calcium. Many of these foods make great snacks that you can eat throughout your day. So relieve some of the stress of wondering if you are getting enough calcium to build strong bones and try some of these calcium rich foods.
|This calcium rich salad took less time than a trip to get fast food! |
It cost less too!
- Broccoli-Okay, not everyone is in agreement that broccoli is “yummy.” But no one can deny that it is high in calcium. And let’s not forget it can make an easy snack. Dip it in a little hummus and the combination gives you even more bang for your buck because the tahini that is in that delicious hummus is also incredibly high in calcium! Now that makes a “yummy” snack.
- Sesame seeds - since I already brought up tahini, made of ground sesame seeds, I thought I would sing the praises of this little wonder seed. They may be small, but they pack a nutritional punch when it comes to calcium. Just a quarter cup of sesame seeds contains about 35 percent of your recommended daily amount.
- Dark leafy greens are excellent sources of calcium. The next time you are eating that beautiful green salad; don’t forget that you are helping to build strong bones in the process. It is worth remembering that kale contains more calcium per ounce than milk!
- Almonds contain more calcium than any other nut. A quarter cup has about 91.77mg of calcium. Add them to your salad, carry them for a snack, or spread almond butter on whole grain toast in the morning. No matter how you eat them, they are a truly delicious way to serve yourself up some calcium.
- Tofu is another way to add calcium to your diet. Four ounces of firm Chinese-style tofu contains about 10% of the daily recommended value of calcium.
- Sardines any one? I love this little fish. And it doesn’t take a whole lot of them to get a good healthy dose of calcium. There’s about 351 mg of calcium in one 3.75-oz can of sardines. Have them on some sesame crackers and you up the calcium content even more! Yum… delicious.
- Blackstrap molasses contains the minerals calcium, iron and potassium. I, for one, think we have suffered as a people, by losing a lot of the “old wisdom” that has been handed down through the ages. Using blackstrap molasses as a calcium source is a delicious way to bring the past into the present. It’s also a nice natural energy boost for those in need of a little iron during their day.
- Goat’s Milk - As a person who doesn’t always have positive reactions to most dairy products, I want to shout the praises of goat’s milk! I just feel better when I drink it. The same goes for goat kefir, yogurt, and cheese… and these are all foods that are high in calcium.
If you feel you are not eating getting enough calcium, supplements are available. Taking calcium supplements in liquid form may be beneficial because liquid vitamins absorb 5 times better than pills. For those of us who find swallowing tablets difficult, it turns out it’s better to take the liquid anyway. If you are thinking about supplements, check with your doctor to find out what is right for you. WebMd cautions that they could pose a heart health risk, for some people.
One of my favorite recipes is a calcium rich and easy way to make almond or sesame milk at home, in your own blender.
Almond (or Sesame Milk):
1 C soaked Almonds or Sesame Seeds (drained)
3-4 C water (depending on how creamy you like your milk)
6 dates (pre-soak, if you don’t have a high powered blender)
Blend thoroughly. Pour the mixture through a nut milk or sprout bag (you can use cheese cloth if you don’t have any bags) into a bowl... be sure to “milk” the bag until all the liquid is squeezed out. Add ½-1 tsp. vanilla (I use more for Sesame Milk, than Almond), a pinch of sea salt, and enjoy you fabulously homemade nut milk. A small glass before you go to bed helps you sleep like a baby!