When looking to boost your calcium levels naturally, age-old wisdom stays true about eating calcium-rich foods and getting enough Vitamin D from the sunshine. While both of these would definitely aid in keeping your calcium levels umpteen, you also need to look into Calcium absorption or bioavailability of Calcium from the measurements you are taking to boost your levels.
Your lifestyle habits, food choices, and food combinations affect the absorption of ingested calcium inside our body. So, it is vital that you learn about both increasing your natural calcium intake and at the same time focus on the healthy habits that would help you make the most of your calcium-rich foods.
In our previous articles within this series, we covered topics on the identification of the symptoms of calcium deficiency and also learned about the major causes of calcium deficiency.
In this article, we will focus on the lifestyle changes that you can employ to naturally boost your calcium levels and hence overcome related health issues. Calcium-rich foods are covered here. So, let us learn more and begin with a little brief on Calcium itself.
Calcium: The elixir element for all bodily functions!
Calcium is an abundant and essential mineral found in the body, with 99% of it being stored in the bones and teeth. The remaining 1% stays in the blood plasma regulating multiple bodily functions.
It plays an important role in nerve conduction, muscle contraction, and blood clotting. Drop-in blood calcium levels lead to leaching of calcium from the bone which is put into the blood in order to maintain optimum levels of Calcium in the plasma.
The deficiency of calcium in the body not only leads to the weakening of bones and osteoporosis but also causes muscle spasms, memory loss, and even depression.
Adults under 50 need 1,000 mg of calcium daily; if you are over 50, you need 1,200 mg daily.
Calcium-Rich Foods to Increase Your Calcium Intake
Calcium is better absorbed in the body from naturally Calcium-rich foods rather than from fortified options or Calcium supplements. In fact, Calcium supplements are more often than not responsible for an excessive dosage of Calcium that deposits on the arteries, causing peripheral diseases including coronary disorders.
Hence, it is always better to selectively increase your intake of Calcium-rich foods and combine them with other elements that would in turn help to enhance the absorption of this essential mineral in the body.
- Leafy greens, especially kale, collard greens, and dark green lettuce, and green herbs such as basil, Moringa, parsley, and dill.
- Dairy sources such as milk, cheese, yogurt, and buttermilk. You can opt for low-fat options should you be worried about weight gain, however at Medhya we believe in wholesome food options and least tempering with natural food combinations to get the maximum benefit out of it.
- Plant-based calcium-rich foods such as sesame seeds, fenugreek seeds, almonds, and basil seeds.
- Fish with soft bones such as sardines and salmon.
- Black beans, pinto beans, and kidney beans.
Minerals that help to increase the absorption of Calcium
Boron helps to prevent the body from losing calcium through urine by maximizing the activity of estrogen and vitamin D in bones. Eat prunes and raisins. They contain a good amount of calcium and boron.
While Magnesium does not impact the absorption of Calcium in the body, it does impact the assimilation and utility of Calcium as the functioning of both go hand in hand. Hence, to avoid the health conditions from Calcium deficiency, one also needs to focus on Magnesium-rich foods.
Vitamin D helps the body to absorb calcium and also regulates calcium in the blood. And the best way to let your body soak up Vitamin D is from direct sunlight! Other sources of vitamin D include fatty fish, fortified milk, fortified cereal, cheese, liver, eggs, butter, margarine, shrimp and oysters.
Strictly avoid these combinations to boost Calcium Levels!
Cut back on salt
Excess sodium is excreted into your urine and it takes calcium with it. The recommended daily sodium intake for adults is 1600 mg, equalling less than one teaspoon of salt. Reduce your consumption of salt in your meals and in turn increase the use of herbs and spices to naturally enhance the flavor.
Additionally, processed foods and snacks have a much higher content of salt, sugar, and even trans fats. Eliminate processed foods, ready to eat meals, and extremely salty snacks such as potato chips to reduce your daily salt consumption.
Reduce consumption of Caffeine and Caffeinated drinks
Caffeine leaches calcium from the bones, zapping their strength!
Do not drink more than 2 cups of coffee a day and avoid excess intake of caffeinated beverages such as energy drinks, energy shots, and colas. Additionally, to buffer the effects of caffeine, avoid drinking coffee along with your Calcium-rich foods or meals.
The caffeine content also varies upon the brewing time and type of coffee you consume. Espresso brings you the highest concentration of Caffeine, followed by brewed coffee, which is still further higher than the instant coffee. So be vigilant of what you are taking apart from the amount.
Other options would be to go for decaffeinated coffee or even green tea with which you would reduce your caffeine intake by 70%.
Alternatively, healthy herbal teas such as mint tea, fruit teas, or basil tea would not only help you reduce your caffeine intake but also bring an additional pack of anti-oxidants and bioflavonoids that are hard to get via regular meals.
Soda, including diet and decaffeinated soda, can interfere with calcium absorption. Hence, it is better to avoid excess intake of soda drinks. An excess of soda beverages leads to an increase in phosphate levels in the blood. This, in turn, can leach calcium from your bones and increase calcium excretion in your urine. High phosphate levels also prevent calcium absorption.
Do not combine bran & beans with Calcium-rich foods and meals
Both bran and beans are rich sources of natural proteins and B Vitamins, hence highly desirable and recommended for your daily nutrition. However, they also have phytic acid and oxalic acid that binds with calcium and hence can inhibit its absorption. The acids are also found in spinach, Swiss chard, beets, rhubarb, berries, beans, wheat bran, seeds, and grains.
So, avoid combining your calcium-rich foods and meals with the mentioned food ingredients to reduce wastage of ingested Calcium from food.