Saturday, December 11, 2010

Calcium – keeping bones, nerves and muscles in top form

  • Calcium is a major building-block of our bone tissue, and our skeleton houses 99 per cent of our body’s calcium stores. The calcium in our bones also acts as a ‘reservoir’ for maintaining calcium levels in the blood, which is essential for healthy nerve and muscle functioning.
  • The amount of calcium we need to consume changes at different stages in our lives. Calcium requirements are high in our teenage years with the rapid growth of the skeleton, and during this time, our body’s efficiency in absorbing calcium from food increases.
  •  With age, however,this absorption efficiency declines, which is one of the reasons why seniors also need to consume higher amounts of calcium.
  • Milk and other dairy products are the most readily available dietary sources of calcium. Dairy foods have the additional advantage of being good sources of protein and other micronutrients (besides calcium) that are important for bone and general health. 
  • Other good food sources of calcium include some green vegetables,like broccoli, curly kale, and bok choycanned fish with soft, edible bones (the calcium’s in the bones!) such as sardines, pilchards and salmon; nuts – especially Brazil nuts and almonds; some fruits such as oranges, apricots and dried figs; and calcium-set tofu.
  • Some calcium-fortified breads, cereals, fruit juices, soy beverages and several brands of commercial mineral water also contain significant amounts of calcium.These foods provide a suitable alternative for people who are lactose-intolerant and for vegan vegetarians.

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