As you’re probably aware, calcium is one of the most important components of the food we eat. Calcium, which is naturally occurring, is important for healthy bones and teeth, as well as overall health and a whole range of other benefits. Most people assume that they eat enough calcium in their everyday diet, but the truth is, this is not always the case. If you don’t consume enough calcium, your body takes it from your bones, which can cause them to become brittle over time.
- Eat and drink dairy products. Milk and cheese contain high levels of calcium. If you are lactose intolerant or don’t drink milk, switch to calcium fortified soy milk. Yogurt, cheese, milk, and even ice cream contain calcium. You don’t have to drink a gallon of milk to get your calcium; there are plenty of ways to vary your diet and still include dairy products.
- Eat your vegetables. Leafy green vegetables including broccoli, collard greens, spinach, and bok choy contain calcium. Of course, they also contain many other vitamins that are beneficial for your health, making them an especially good choice.
- Eat beans, nuts, and fish. Kidney, lima, and navy beans contain calcium. So do dried figs. Some nuts and seeds also contain calcium. Sardines and salmon with bones are additional sources of calcium. Many of these foods also contain beneficial fats and other nutrients that your body needs.
- Choose calcium-fortified products. Calcium-fortified tofu contains higher levels of calcium than regular tofu. Calcium-fortified orange juice is another easy-to-find product containing calcium. While these are a less natural way to eat calcium, they are still an excellent choice for those who need to eat more calcium.
- Take supplements. If you find it difficult to get enough calcium through your diet alone, consider supplements. Multivitamins often contain up to 200mg of calcium per pill. Tums antacids have 200 to 300mg of calcium per tablet. If you need a lot more calcium than what you’re getting through the foods you eat, there are also calcium supplements with up to 500mg of calcium in each pill.
- Increase your vitamin D consumption. Vitamin D helps with calcium absorption. Sunlight is a great way to increase your vitamin D; it is also found in fortified milk. Try to eat foods containing vitamin D at the same meals as foods containing calcium.
- Avoid products that inhibit the absorption of calcium. Caffeine, salt, and alcohol can make it harder for your body to absorb the calcium you eat. If you reduce your intake of these, your body will be able to make better use of the calcium you eat.
Most people need around 700mg of calcium each day, although this figure depends on your age and other factors. Children and older adults typically need more calcium than others, and may need up to 1200mg per day.