Calcium is an important mineral our bodies need. Calcium is needed for muscle function, nerve transmission, hormonal secretion, and contraction and dilation of our arteries. All these functions require less than one percent of the body’s calcium; the remaining calcium supply is stored in the bones and teeth, where it supports their structure and function. Calcium provides mechanical rigidity to bones and teeth, and 99% of the body’s 1kg of calcium is in the skeleton. Calcium is also essential for many other processes, including the function of muscles and nerves.
How Much do You Need?
How much calcium you need varies by age and gender. For adults between 19 and 50 years of age, both male and female, you need 1000 mg of calcium per day. Milk, yogurt, and cheese are rich natural sources of calcium. Eight ounces of plain, low-fat yogurt contains around 400 mg of calcium. Vegetables such as broccoli and kale are some non-dairy sources of calcium, although they don’t provide nearly as much calcium per serving. One half a cup of raw broccoli only provides 24 mg of calcium. Other sources of calcium include foods fortified with calcium such as fruit juices, tofu, and cereals. Six ounces of calcium-fortified orange juice contains 261 mg of calcium.
The Dangers of Calcium Deficiency
Unfortunately, much of the research data referring to calcium is inconsistent. That said, there are certain points on which almost everyone agrees: Calcium is important for skeletal health. Not getting enough calcium in your diet does not produce any obvious symptoms in the short term. This is because there is a constant exchange between the calcium stored in our bones and the calcium in our blood stream. To maintain the calcium levels in our blood, our bodies take it from the calcium in our bones. Over the long-term, calcium intake below the recommended levels has health consequences, most notably osteopenia (low bone mass) and increased risk for osteoporosis.
Calcium is important for skeletal health, as well as a whole host of other essential functions.
“Calcium is the most abundant and dominant mineral in the body,” says Andrea J. Singer, MD, FACP, CCD, director of women’s primary care and bone densitometry for the department of obstetrics and gynecology at MedStar Georgetown University Hospital and clinical director of the National Osteoporosis Foundation. “It’s important for skeletal health, as well as a whole host of other essential functions.” Without calcium there would be no nerve transmission, muscle contraction, cell signaling, blood clotting, constriction and relaxation of blood vessels, or secretion of hormones like insulin.1-3 “If there isn’t enough calcium coming in from the diet,” Singer says, “the body will pull calcium from the bones for all of these things that need to be done.”
10 LOW FODMAP Sources of calcium
Yes, it’s true: milk is a great vehicle for bone-building calcium. With 280 mg per cup—or 28% of your daily recommended daily allowance of 1,000 mg—it’s one of the most concentrated sources, too. But there are other foods high in calcium, which is good news for the lactose-averse among us. They aren’t always the obvious ones, either. For instance, some dark greens pack more calcium than milk while other similar leaves have none. Here are 10 options for calcium intake :
1. SEEDS : Several kinds of seeds are good sources of calcium. For instance, 1 tablespoon of poppy seeds has 13% of the RDI.
2. CHEESE : Parmesan cheese delivers 33% of the RDI of calcium. While high in fat and calories, cheese may actually lower your risk of heart disease. Hard cheeses that are lactose free are the obvious choice for those that do not tolerate lactose.
3. YOGURT : Yogurt is one of the best sources of calcium, providing 30% of the RDI in one cup. It’s also a good source of protein and other nutrients. Lactose free obvious choices for those that do not tolerate lactose.
4. SARDINES & CANNED SALMON : Sardines and canned salmon are super healthy choices. A can of sardines gives you 35% of the RDI for calcium.
5. BEANS AND LENTILS : Beans are highly nutritious, and one cup of cooked wing beans (Goa Bean) delivers 24% of the RDI for calcium. 1/2 a cup of canned lentils should be tolerated by most on the Low Fodmap diet.
6. SOME LEAFY GREENS : Some dark, leafy greens are rich in calcium. One cup of cooked collard greens contain 25% of your daily needs.
7. RHUBARB : Rhubarb has lots of fibre, vitamin K and other nutrients. The calcium may not be fully absorbed, but the numbers are still high.
8. EDAMAME (SOY BEANS) : Edamame are rich in calcium. Just half a cup of tofu prepared with calcium has 86% of the RDI.
9. TOFU : Plain tofu is a great calcium source. Be sure to use plain and not ‘silken’ tofu which is high in FODMAPs
10. MILK : You guessed it. Milk is a great source of well-absorbed calcium. A cup of milk provides between 27% and 35% of the RDI.