Coach G’s Nutrition Corner: Calcium!
By: Garrett Rolsma
One of the most important minerals that we must consume in our diets, calcium is one of those things that we really cannot live without. Making up most of our bones and teeth, calcium is also important for muscle contraction and blood clotting. Every day your body is constantly breaking down old bone and laying down new. This constant formation of bone matrix is a lifelong process that requires adequate supply of building blocks (Calcium), and sufficient stress to remodel (weight bearing activity). Finding the right balance of adequate nutrients and appropriate stressors will ensure bone health throughout your entire life. Now when most of us think of calcium in foods, we immediately think of dairy products, and that is fine. However, there are tons of other sources of calcium that deserve a place in our nutrition too. Let us dive into some great sources of calcium and see how they compare.
Dairy Products: With dairy products you are guaranteeing a great source of calcium, but you are also getting some fats and potential allergy or food sensitivity issues, so there is a tradeoff. Look for milk, yogurts, and cheeses that are lower in saturated fats but still pack that calcium punch.
Vegetables: Lower in total calories and rich in other vitamins and minerals, vegetables can serve as great calcium sources if you pick them correctly. Spinach, collard greens, arugula, kale, broccoli rabe, edamame, bok choy, turnip greens, kelp and the list goes on and on. You can create some very calcium rich meals with vegetables alone.
Fruits: Higher in sweetness and total calories, fruits can still give you ample amounts of calcium. Oranges, Figs, Rhubarb, Kiwi, Prunes, Apricots, Dates, etc. can be quickly added to your busy lifestyle. Look for whole fruit or dried fruits but beware, they will come higher in calories and should be added to other calcium rich food, instead of relying on fruits alone.
Meats, Seeds and Nuts: Containing healthy fats and protein, the following options deserve a place on your plate. Salmon, sardines, almonds, brazil nuts, chia/sesame/flax/pumpkin seeds, and many others contain calcium as well as other important nutrients.
Supplements: Those who know that they are not consuming adequate amounts of calcium could look at supplements to help fill the gaps. Always try to eat as adequately as possible, but if you find yourself coming up short, a supplement could be a great help.
In closing, look at your current eating habits. Are any of the foods listed above on your regular plan? If not, you may be lacking in some very important calcium. Do your body a favor, ensure that you are consuming enough calcium to maximize your bone growth and health. As the years pass, you will be very happy that you acted today!