What is calcium?
Calcium is an essential mineral that is required for the body to function properly.
We all know that calcium is needed to build strong bones and teeth. In addition, it is required for every cell of the body to function at its optimum. It is used by nerves and muscles and helps our blood clot.
How much calcium should we consume daily?
- Age 0–1: 400–600mg
- Age 1–10: 800mg
- Preteens and teens: 1200–1500mg
- Adults: 1000–1200mg
- Pregnant women: 1500–2000mg
- Breastfeeding women: 1200–1500mg
- Seniors: 1200–1500mg
Teens require a lot of calcium, as adolescence is a time when bones grow rapidly. The stronger the bone development during this time, the healthier the bones will be during adulthood. Calcium needs stabilise once a person reaches full growth, but there are times when they increase, such as pregnancy, breastfeeding and healing from injuries.
The elderly have to pay special attention to the level of calcium in their diet in order to prevent osteoporosis, a condition where the bones become brittle and fragile due to hormonal changes or deficiency of calcium and vitamin D.
Adding more calcium to your diet
|Snack on calcium-rich nuts such as almonds and Brazil nuts|
|Include more fish in your diet, especially sardines|
|Have at least one serving of dairy a day, either milk, yoghurt or cheese|
|Pile up your plate with leafy greens and vegetables that are good sources of calcium. You can also add them to a green smoothie|
|To ensure you get the maximum absorption of calcium, take your calcium-rich foods in smaller amounts. Calcium is best absorbed when taken in amounts of 500–600mg or less|
|Reduce your intake of caffeine, soft drinks and alcohol, which can inhibit the absorption of calcium|
|Vitamin D is essential for your body to absorb calcium. A deficiency in this vitamin can lead to losing bone and having low bone density. Sources of vitamin D include sunlight, and foods such as fatty fish, beef liver and egg yolk|