Why do I need it?
If there is one mineral that takes all the credit for bone and tooth health, it is calcium. That is because more than 99% of the body’s calcium is stored away in bone and teeth. This mineral ensures the strength of the network of collagen fibres making up bones and teeth. The remaining 1% is found in plasma. Calcium is not the only element responsible for bone and tooth health but it sure is a key player.
Bone health aside, there are over 100 tasks calcium is involved in. From delivering a heartbeat to making nerve cell communication possible calcium is ubiquitous within the human body. Important for us fitness enthusiasts is the fact that calcium is essential for skeletal muscle contraction and for improving body composition. You can read all about how making calcium a staple in your diet can aid your weight loss and muscle building efforts in Calcium – your secret weapon to speed fat loss.
Where to get it?
Dairy products will give you anywhere from 200mg to 400mg of calcium per serving. You can also get a great deal from the bones of fish such as salmon and sardines. If you have a taste for it, eating the articulation and bones of other animals can be a great way to get calcium (and collagen) into your diet as well.
Vegetable sources of calcium include leafy greens such as kale, spinach and bok choy as well as broccoli and turnip. Since these do not represent a substantial source of calcium, vegetarians may have to opt for foods fortified with calcium such as tofu.
Read some fantastic tips on how to meet (and assess) your calcium needs in FDN Calcium Fights Fat – are you getting enough?
Am I deficient?
The body tightly regulates how, and where, it allocates calcium. If calcium in blood is not sufficient to support enzymatic activity it will take out of the biggest calcium “bank” we have – our bones and teeth. Make sure you don’t let this happen by consuming foods rich in calcium.
If you are relying heavily on vegetable sources of calcium here is something to consider. Less than 5% of the calcium in spinach is available to us because it is exists bound to oxalates. On the other side of the spectrum, we have broccoli, from which we can absorb about 50% of the calcium contained in the plant.
Should I Supplement?
According to the office of Dietary supplements of the US National Institutes for Health the data on the weight reducing properties of calcium and dairy products is mixed. Supplementation does not seem to have the same effects on body composition as the ones seen from consuming whole foods. Other components in dairy, and calcium rich foods, might work synergistically with calcium to produce these effects. As a matter of fact foods high in protein enhance the absorption of calcium.
There are other factors, most of them we have yet to discover, that contribute to calcium absorption. Vitamin D, A and K2 as well as a healthy gut lining are all things to keep in mind.
All in all, in the case of calcium, food sources seem to deliver the greatest benefits. Although we will always absorb calcium best from food sources, some of us might still fall short or have special circumstances that merit supplementation. If this is your case make sure you know how to choose the correct calcium supplement. Dr. Paul Cribb shows you how to do this, here.
RDA(recommended daily allowance): 800-1200mg day
Source: Dr Paul Cribb – Metabolic Precision