Calcium is essential to help build and maintain strong healthy bones. As much as 99% of the body’s calcium is found in the bones and when combined with other vital minerals, forms hard crystals that give bones their strength and structure. It’s also needed for supporting muscle and nerve function.
Why you need calcium?
If you don’t get enough calcium in your diet, your body will take calcium from your bones and this can result in weakened bones and lead to poor bone health.
In our twenties, we generally reach our peak bone mass. It’s when our bones are at their highest density. Achieving peak bone mass in our younger years will mean we can maintain better bone health as we age
How much calcium?
Our daily calcium needs depend on our age and our sex.
Calcium is particularly vital for children, teens and young adults in order to reach peak bone mass.
It is also just as important that older people – especially women over 50 and men over 70 – ensure that they get enough calcium in their diets so as to maintain bone mass.
The Australian Dietary Guidelines recommend that most people consume 2 ½ to 4 serves of calcium per day.
See http://www.osteoporosis.org.au/calcium for the recommended daily calcium intake for all ages.
Sources of Calcium:
The best way to get the recommended level of calcium is to eat plenty of calcium-rich foods on a regular basis. Calcium rich foods include:
- Dairy foods such as milk, yoghurt, and cheese – which supply around 60% of the calcium we eat.
- Green vegetables, especially leafy greens, are rich sources of calcium. These include broccoli, spinach, kale and silverbeet
- Tinned fish such as sardines and salmon
- Beans including kidney beans, baked beans, soy beans and chickpeas
- Nuts including almonds, sesame seeds and brazil nuts
- Some fruits including oranges, dried apricots and dried figs.
Calcium Content of Foods
The following organisations provide detailed guides to the levels of calcium in everyday foods:
Healthy Tips for Recipes
Eating a calcium-rich diet is not hard – in fact most people get pretty close already. But here are some tips using calcium rich foods to inspire you even more.