Why is calcium so important for good health? Calcium plays a critical role in several bodily functions such as muscle contraction, transmitting messages through nerves, and for releasing hormones. In a diet with a calcium deficiency, the body depletes calcium from the bones, leading to health disorders and disease.
Just about every cell in our body uses calcium for optimal health. This is why its more important to up your intake of calcium as you get older because, during the aging process, our bodies absorb less calcium.
There are a lot of calcium-rich foods besides milk that we can include in our daily diets to ensure we are getting sufficient amounts of this important mineral.
The recommended daily intake (RDI) of calcium is 1,000 mg per day for the average adult and it should be increased to 1,200 mg per day from the age of about 50 years.
Cheese is an excellent source of calcium, especially parmesan cheese, which contains 33% of the RDI per 28 grams. Our bodies also tend to absorb calcium from dairy products more easily than from plant sources. Aged, hard cheeses are also low in lactose so easier to digest.
Plain, unsweetened Yogurt
Yogurt offers many health benefits due to the live probiotic bacteria content and calcium content. One cup of plain, unsweetened yogurt offers 30% of the RDI for calcium, while low-fat yogurt has 45% of the calcium RDI in one cup.
Celery seeds, poppy, sesame, and chia seeds are the perfect examples of dynamite coming in small packages. They may be physically tiny but their nutritional value is huge. For example, one tablespoon of poppy seeds contains 126 mg of calcium, which is 13% of the RDI. Seeds also come with a load of minerals and vitamins.
Sardines are rich in calcium because of the soft, edible bones. One can (92 grams) of sardines provides 35% of your calcium RDI. This oily fish also has a high content of protein and omega-3 fatty acids for a healthy heart and brain.
Almonds contain the highest calcium than most nuts. One ounce of almonds gives you 8% of the RDI for calcium. They also contain fiber, healthy fats, protein, magnesium, manganese, and vitamin E. Almonds help lower blood pressure and minimize risk factors for metabolic disorders.
Packed with protein, micronutrients, zinc, magnesium and potassium, some varieties of beans are also super high in calcium. One cup of cooked winged beans provides 24% of the calcium RDI and one cup of white beans 13% of the RDI. Beans and lentils are the top reasons why plant-based diets are so healthy.
Certain cereals can provide you with 100% of the RDI for calcium even before the milk is added. Because your body cannot absorb all that calcium in one go, you’ll need to spread your intake over the course of the day. Look out for grain-based foods fortified with calcium.