Screen Shot 2018-06-16 at 11.28.26 AM

Building Blocks of Health: Calcium

Calcium is a critical element to our health. It plays a role in maintaining strong bones and teeth, in signaling other cells, in the maintenance of a regular heart beat, and in blood clotting, muscle contraction, and nerve function . In order to maintain appropriate calcium levels we should obtain between 500-100 mg of calcium daily. For most of us that level can be obtained in our diet. Many studies have looked at calcium supplementation and the most recent research is pointing to an increase risk of heart attack and stroke and a measly 10% decrease in overall fracture when supplements are taken. The conclusion is that the risk of heart attack and stroke is more detrimental than the deleterious effects from fracture.  If we can get what we need from our diet and not supplementation then what are the best sources of calcium?  In the United States the number one source of dietary calcium is dairy. What is striking is that the number one source of artery clogging saturated fat is also dairy. Since that sounds like a terrible place to get calcium here are some other more palatable sources:

  • Chia Seeds- 2 tablespoons= 177mg
  • Hemp Milk- 1 cup= 428mg 
  • Sesame Seeds- 1/4 cup= 351mg
  • Almond Butter- 2 tablespoons = 111mg
  • Beans- 1 cup of white beans= 191mg
  • Amaranth- 1 cup= 116mg
  • Leafy Greens- kale, bok choy and spinach
  • Vegetables- fennel, artichokes and broccoli
  • Fruits- blackberries, black currants, oranges and figs

Several external factors can affect calcium absorption. Vitamin D is needed to absorb calcium so make sure you are maintaining adequate levels of this Vitamin as explained in a previous blog. Additionally, caffeine, alcohol and excessive sodium can decrease calcium absorption so keep these to a minimum.

Leave a Reply