The Importance of Calcium
Calcium is essential for growth and good health. Most of it is found in our bones and teeth and the rest is stored in tissues and blood. Calcium plays a vital role in:
- Strengthening bones and teeth
- Muscle function
- Blood clotting
- The nervous system
Healthy bones need good nutrition throughout life, especially during the growth and teenage years when bones are growing and bone density is increasing. Important nutrients for healthy bones include calcium and vitamin D. If you don’t eat enough calcium your body will take calcium from your bones. This increases our risk of developing osteoporosis, a condition where the bones weaken and fracture more easily.
If you have a family history of osteoporosis you may be more likely to develop it yourself but good diet and lifestyle habits can help to reduce the risk.
Reduce the Risk of Developing Osteoporosis
1. Regular weight-bearing physical activity
Weight-bearing exercise such as walking, running, dancing and weights help to build and maintain good bone strength.
2. Adequate vitamin D
Vitamin D, which the body makes from sunlight, is important for calcium absorption. People who are confined indoors are most at risk of vitamin D deficiency. Twenty minutes per day of sunshine will prevent low vitamin D levels.
3. Limit foods which cause a loss of calcium
- Caffeine-containing drinks eg. coffee, cola and tea
- High alcohol intake
- High salt (sodium) intake
- Life-long calcium-rich diet
4. How much calcium do we need?
About 2-3 serves of dairy foods per day will supply the calcium needed for most people.
Women over the age of 50 require an increase in calcium intake to 1300mg per day (4 serves dairy per day).
Different ages or certain medical conditions can also require different calcium requirements so it is important to discuss your own requirements with a Dietitian or with your GP.
How much calcium is in food?
Dairy foods are the richest source of calcium and one serve of these is equivalent to 250ml cows milk, 2x slices (40g) hard cheese or 2/3 cup yoghurt. There are also non-dairy calcium-rich foods for those who are unable to eat dairy, these include soy milk, tofu, fish with bones.
If you have any more questions about your diet, book in a consultation with one of our Dietitians.
Our Exercise Physiologists can also prescribe you the right exercise program for you.
Please contact our reception to book your appointment on 6122 0150.