Calcium is a crucial nutrient required for healthy growth and maintenance of bones and teeth. In addition, it also plays a vital role in handling muscle contraction, nerve signaling, and secretion of various enzymes and hormones. Calcium deficiency can be a cause for muscle cramps, numbness in toes and fingers, lethargy, convulsions, reduced appetite, and anomalous heart rhythms.
Importance of Calcium
Calcium makes one of the most common mineral found in the body and is essential for bone formation and other body functions, such as blood clotting and muscle contractions. Most of the calcium in our body is stored in the teeth and bones. Even though bones appear rock hard, they are in reality living tissue which is continuously in flux. New bone is formed with annihilation of old bone.
The body requires calcium for effective blood circulation, muscle movement, and release hormones. In addition, calcium also helps to carry messages from the brain to other body parts.
Adding further, calcium makes an essential part of bone and teeth health. It makes the bones dense and strong. As a matter of fact, bones are also considered as the calcium reservoir of the body. However, if you don’t take sufficient calcium in your diet, the body will absorb it from the bones.
Adding further, it has been revealed through numerous studies that calcium helps to ease the symptoms of premenstrual syndrome (PMS). This study also concluded that women with lower intake of magnesium and calcium, and lower serum levels show more PMS.
However, lack of calcium can also lead to other health problems such as risk of developing osteoporosis, or porous and frail bones that re more prone to fractures.
Sources of Calcium
Usually, dairy foods and dark leafy greens are rich sources of calcium. However, there are many non-dairy food sources as well, like fruits, legumes, and seafood that act as good suppliers of calcium to the body.
Here is a list of some good sources of calcium, dairy and non-dairy, to include in your daily diet plan.
- Dark Leafy Greens
This is probably the best as well as healthiest source of calcium after dairy products. Green leafy veggies, like spinach, rank quite high in calcium. Some other good leafy sources of calcium include bok choy, kale, and collards. Not only this, leafy greens are also high in other essential vitamins, specifically vitamin A and D, that help the body to absorb calcium form the various food sources eaten.
- Sesame Seeds
As is said, “Big things come in small packages”. These tiny white seeds are amazing providers of calcium, along with other essential vitamins and minerals. Every 100gm serving of raw sesame seeds provides 1000mg of calcium to your body.
A cup of freshly squeezed orange juice provides around 72mg of calcium besides providing sufficient vitamin C, thus improving the body’s calcium absorbing capacity. In addition, oranges are also great providers of vitamin A, potassium, and beta carotene.
- Chia Seeds
Chia seeds are lesser known source of calcium. Well, quite surprisingly, a 3.5 ounce serving of chia seeds offers approximately 631 mg of calcium.
This is another common source of calcium. Every 100 gm of winged beans, for example, contains 442 mg of calcium. White beans are packed with high calcium content. Furthermore, navy beans also provide high calcium content.
- Blackstrap Molasses
This food source works as an amazing sweetener fir baked goods and teas. Loaded with minerals and multiple vitamins, just a tablespoon of the thick, dark molasses provides 172 mg of the daily calcium requirement. You can try it in your morning cup of coffee or tea.
- Dried fruits and nuts
Nuts and dry fruits are also high in calcium. For example, an intake of approximately 5 dried figs a day can provide about 135 mg of calcium. Nuts, especially almonds (100gms), contain as much as 266 mg of calcium.
A cup of broccoli provides as much as 74mg of calcium. Not only this, it is also loaded with vitamin C that helps the body to absorb calcium. Broccoli is also a rich source of vitamin A, vitamin K, dietary fiber, and foliates. Quite healthy!
However, excessive intake of calcium can also pose adverse health effects, like calcification of soft tissue, kidney stones, and higher chances of heart attack or stroke. So, eat wisely and stay healthy!