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Got Calcium?

As children, our main beverage option was milk, most commonly whole. Our parents knew that the calcium in milk had many benefits for our bodies. As adults, it’s important to remember that to maintain a healthy body, calcium still provides us with necessary benefits. You may know that calcium helps build strong bones and keeps them strong, but you may be surprised to find out exactly how much calcium we need, and the many reasons why.

What is calcium?

Calcium is a mineral that is essential to our bodies. Our calcium consumption builds and maintains strong bones, and supports healthy communication between the brain and other parts of our body.  After the age of 25, when our bones reach their peak mass, calcium helps slow down bone density loss.  Most of the calcium in our bodies is stored in our bones and teeth, to support their structure and strength. Besides supporting our bones, calcium is crucial for muscle contraction, including the heartbeat, blood clotting, blood vessels transporting blood, and nerves sending messages, and it plays a role in the release of hormones and enzymes.

How much calcium do we need?

Since most Americans don’t know how much calcium our bodies need, we often fall short of the required daily consumption. The amount of calcium your body needs actually depends on your age and gender. Women age 50 years or younger need 1,000mg daily.  If you are a woman over the age of 50, the amount increases to 1,200mg daily. Men age 70 years or younger require 1,000mg daily, and men over the age of 70 need 1,200mg daily.

Why is calcium important?

Studies show that calcium, with vitamin D, does more than promote healthy bones. Your heart, muscles and nerves need calcium to function correctly.  Calcium may also protect your body from cancer, diabetes and high blood pressure, although these findings are in the beginning stages. Many people already do not consume enough calcium in their diets. Children who do not get enough calcium may not reach their true height potential, and adults who don’t receive their daily amount of calcium are at risk for low bone mass, putting them at risk for osteoporosis.

How can I add calcium to my diet?

Since our bodies don’t produce calcium, we must get it from outside sources—mainly from what we consume in our diet. Dairy is a common choice for calcium-rich foods. Popular dairy choices besides milk include cheese and yogurt. Other foods rich in calcium that you should consider adding to your diet include leafy green vegetables, like broccoli and kale, sardines and canned salmon. Some calcium-fortified foods you may already be consuming are cereal, bread, soy products and fruit juices.

Calcium consumption is important at every stage of life.  A proper intake at an early age will strengthen bones and teeth. Later in life, calcium keeps bones healthy and strong. Calcium also helps our heart, muscles, and nerves operate correctly. Everyday our bodies lose calcium, but our bodies cannot produce more. If we don’t get enough of the calcium our body needs, it gets taken from our bones. Including calcium-rich foods in our daily diet will benefit our bodies beyond bone support and strength. Take advantage of the benefits of calcium and get your daily dosage today!