Calcium is a mineral our bodies must have to function properly. An inadequate supply of calcium can greatly affect one's health, especially bone health. Fortunately, there are many foods that can provide you with the calcium you need. All you have to do is know which foods these are and include them in your diet every day to reap their benefits.
Calcium's role in the body is to provide support to the bones and the teeth. Calcium is also needed for contraction of the muscles, and expansion and contraction of the blood vessels. The release of hormones and enzymes is another activity that's supported by calcium, and calcium influences the functioning of the nervous system. Healthy blood pressure is also maintained when calcium intake is sufficient and calcium is needed for blood clotting.
Dairy foods are high in calcium content. One cup of plain, low-fat yogurt supplies almost one half of the daily value of calcium (415 mg), and 1 cup of nonfat milk supplies a little less than one third of the daily value (302 mg) of calcium. Other dairy foods that supply calcium are reduced-fat milk, whole milk, buttermilk, cheddar cheese, part-skim mozzarella cheese, pudding, cottage cheese, vanilla frozen yogurt, vanilla ice cream, sour cream, eggs and cream cheese. Low-fat dairy is richer in calcium than dairy foods with a high fat content.
Some people think that only dairy foods contain calcium, but the fact is there are some vegetables that contain calcium. One-half cup of spinach supplies you with 12 percent of your daily value of calcium, and 1/2 cup of turnip greens supplies you with 10 percent of your daily value of calcium. More calcium-rich vegetables are kale, Chinese cabbage, mustard greens, carrots and broccoli.
Calcium in Other Foods
Some foods you never think would have calcium do contain this important mineral. These foods include almonds, dried beans, tofu, oranges and orange juice, figs, dates, raisins, corn tortillas, molasses, sardines with the bones, salmon and calcium-fortified foods such as bread, cereal, cereal bars and pre-made waffles.
Significance of Foods Containing Calcium
When a child is born and starts to grow, a greater amount of calcium is needed to build strong bones. Another point in life when calcium intake should be increased is when the body's ability to absorb calcium declines. When a child's body has a low level of calcium, that child may be more vulnerable to fractures of the bones and a disease of the bones called rickets. Adults with inadequate calcium intake can be more at risk for osteoporosis, high blood pressure, colon cancer and abnormal weight.
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