While 99% of your calcium is found in your bones and teeth, this vital mineral also plays an important role in aiding muscle contraction, stabilizing blood pressure, helping your blood clot, and facilitating communication between nerve cells. Evidence suggests that the average American intakes only half of the calcium they should be getting each day. While this might not incur immediate consequences, down the line, aging with a calcium deficiency and weaker, less stable bones can increase risk for osteoporosis, fractures from falls, and potentially Alzheimer’s disease.
For women under 50 and men under 70 years of age, a minimum 1,000mg of calcium is the daily recommended value. Older than that, and 1,200mg of calcium a day should be your goal. Remember, not all calcium is created equal – dietary calcium far outperforms supplements when it comes to absorption.
Why? The hormone estrogen helps the body more readily absorb calcium and some studies suggest that calcium-rich foods like cheese, yogurt, and milk might simultaneously deliver calcium and activate estrogen metabolism. Calcium supplements, on the other hand, can differ in how well the body absorbs the mineral, sometimes only processing a third of the calcium in the supplement. Incorporate these 11 nutritious foods into your diet to boost your calcium levels today:
When fresh milk or cream is fermented, wherein bacteria convert the milk sugar to lactic acid thus thickening the milk and giving it the sweet tangy flavor, you get yogurt. Even a 6 oz. cup of low-fat yogurt yields 18% of your daily recommended value of calcium, in addition to 34% of your daily recommended amount of muscle and tissue-building protein, and appreciable amounts of vitamin B12 and potassium.
Non-fat and low-fat yogurt offer more calcium per serving than full-fat yogurt, but greek yogurt varieties also contain live active cultures (probiotics) which promote a healthy digestive tract and immune system.