Calcium. Say the word and you think a few things, like milk, cheese or osteoarthritis. Many of us know that calcium is a vital mineral and one that works to help strengthen and fortify your bones. You need calcium to ensure that your bones are strong through your life and into your older years. If your body doesn’t get enough of what it needs through food, it will take the deficit from your bones which can leave them weak or brittle.
Not an ideal situation.
If any calcium deficiency is ongoing, you may get osteoporosis which is a condition causing pain from brittle bones. The amount of calcium that you need varies depending on your age, with adults under 50 years of age generally needing around 1,000 mg per day, and adults over 50 years of age needing around 1,200 mg daily. With a standard glass of milk containing around 305 mg of calcium, that means that you need to be drinking down four cups of milk – at least – each day in order to satisfy your daily requirements. A great way to manage your calcium intake is to take a supplement (there are many out there, like Algaecal calcium supplements for example) which gives you the hit of calcium that you need, without the huge dairy intake.
Want more information? Let’s take a look at these ways to boost your calcium absorption.
Increase your calcium intake
Your body absorbs calcium from foods very easily, so it helps to have a diet that is high in calcium in addition to taking a supplement, as this will ensure you’re covering your bases. You can eat more leafy greens like kale and collard greens, or other foods like salmon and sardines which are a good source of calcium.
Avoid the bad foods
Some foods actually inhibit the absorption of calcium – foods like chocolate, berries, grapes and eggplant all contain oxalates which bind to calcium and prevent absorption. Also, alcohol can hinder calcium absorption so if you’re wondering which foods to avoid or eat, check with your doctor.
Load up on Vitamin D
This wonder vitamin helps you to absorb calcium, and not getting enough can put you at risk. An easy cure for Vitamin D deficiency is to hang out in the sun for 15 minutes a day! Don’t put yourself at risk of developing skin cancer, so always be sun smart – and if you live somewhere where the sun is not a frequent visitor, you can ask your doctor or a health professional about whether you could take a vitamin D supplement to boost your intake.
You might think that eating foods like spinach will help with your calcium intake, and though you’ll find that spinach is very high in calcium you’ll also find that it’s high in oxalates – which is a kind of acid that we spoke about earlier that sadly inhibits the body’s ability to absorb calcium. Milk and dairy or supplement products that are missing oxalates make for much better calcium boosters.
Pump up the magnesium
Magnesium works in conjunction with calcium in that it helps your body to absorb and retain it. Since your body isn’t good at storing magnesium on its own, it’s vital that you make sure that you’re getting enough magnesium in your diet (as well as calcium). You’ll find magnesium is present in nuts, seeds, seafood and tofu – as well as many types of vegetables.
To sum it up, if you’re looking to improve your calcium absorption, make sure that you’re getting plenty of magnesium, plenty of Vitamin D (through supplements or exposure to the sun) and balancing out oxalate-rich foods with calcium supplements and a diet that’s high in calcium.