Calcium is an essential mineral that plays a vital role in many bodily functions, including:
- Bone health: Calcium is the main building block of bones and teeth. It helps to keep bones strong and healthy, and it can help to prevent osteoporosis, a condition that causes bones to become weak and brittle.
- Muscle function: Calcium helps to regulate muscle contraction and relaxation. This is important for many bodily functions, such as breathing, digestion, and movement.
- Blood pressure: Calcium helps to regulate blood pressure. Adequate intake of calcium can help to lower blood pressure, which is a risk factor for heart disease and stroke.
- Nervous system function: Calcium is essential for the proper functioning of the nervous system. It helps to transmit nerve signals, which is important for many bodily functions, such as thinking, feeling, and moving.
The recommended daily intake (RDI) of calcium for adults is 1,000 milligrams (mg) for women ages 19-50 and 1,200 mg for women over 50 and men ages 19-70. The RDI for men over 70 is 1,000 mg.
There are many calcium-rich foods that you can add to your daily diet, including:
- Dairy products: Milk, yogurt, cheese, and other dairy products are excellent sources of calcium.
- Green leafy vegetables: Kale, broccoli, collard greens, and bok choy are all good sources of calcium.
- Fortified foods: Some foods, such as orange juice and cereal, are fortified with calcium.
- Beans and lentils: Beans and lentils are a good source of calcium, especially for people who follow a vegan or vegetarian diet.
It is important to note that not all calcium-rich foods are created equal. The body absorbs calcium more easily from dairy products than from plant sources. So, if you are looking to boost your calcium intake, you may want to focus on dairy products.
However, there are also many plant-based sources of calcium that are a good choice for people who are lactose intolerant or who do not eat dairy products. These include:
- Tofu: Tofu is a good source of calcium, and it is also a complete protein, which means that it contains all nine essential amino acids.
- Tempeh: Tempeh is another good source of calcium, and it is also a good source of protein and fiber.
- Broccoli: Broccoli is a good source of calcium, and it is also a good source of vitamins C and K.
- Kale: Kale is a good source of calcium, and it is also a good source of vitamins A and C.
If you are not sure how much calcium you are getting in your diet, you can talk to your doctor or a registered dietitian. They can help you create a plan to ensure that you are getting enough calcium to meet your needs.