We have all heard the conventional wisdom that calcium builds strong bones, but why is that the case? It is because the structure of the bone is built with mineralized calcium and phosphate. This gives bones not only their shape, but their strength. When your bones don’t have enough calcium to fortify them, bones become weak and are at greater risk of breaking.
Calcium, though, isn’t just important for bones. Other bodily functions, including muscle contraction, heart regulation, nerve impulse transmission, blood pressure regulation and the immune system, depend on calcium to function correctly. Since 99% of our calcium is stored in our bones, when you don’t get enough calcium in your diet to support these other bodily functions, your body will pull calcium from your bones instead.
So, what types of food should you eat to get calcium? While dairy products are some of the most well known sources of calcium, there are other foods that you can incorporate into your diet to improve your calcium intake.
Here are 5 delicious foods to eat to add calcium to your diet:
1. Leafy Greens
Packed with more than just calcium, you can’t go wrong with adding a variety of leafy greens to your diet. With lots of options to choose from, try any of the following in your salads and soups: spinach, brussels sprouts, swiss chard, turnip greens, broccoli, bok choy, kale or collard greens.
Salmon and shrimp are both great sources of calcium. If you want to pack an extra punch, try canned sardines–the edible bones provide an excellent boost of calcium.
Beans, beans, the magical fruit, the more you eat…well, you know the rhyme. But did you know that beans are also rich in calcium? Enjoy cannellini beans and navy beans in soups or boil some edamame for a calcium-rich snack.
Seeds may be tiny, but they pack a big punch of important nutrients like calcium, protein and healthy fats. Some seeds to add to your diet include poppy, sesame, and chia. Consider sprinkling them over salads or including them in a smoothie.
Looking for a sweet way to liven up your oatmeal? Add a couple of dried figs and you will not only get extra calcium, but potassium and vitamin k. They can also make great additions to salads or just enjoy as an afternoon snack.
Don’t Forget to Include Foods Rich in Vitamin D
Adding these items to your diet will help you reach your recommended daily intake of calcium. In addition, pairing calcium-rich foods with foods high in vitamin D, such as egg yolks, shiitake mushrooms, and fish (specifically salmon, mackerel, sardines, and canned tuna), will help with the absorption of calcium from your food. This way you can maximize the effectiveness of your calcium intake.
If you liked this article on 5 delicious ways to add calcium to your diet then you may want to read: Lifelong Nutrition for Healthy Bones.