Orthopedic Specialists

Calcium: Health Benefits & Top Sources

July 25, 2023

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Calcium plays a vital role in maintaining strong bones and teeth, supporting proper muscle function, nerve transmission, and facilitating various essential bodily processes. Though you need calcium, your body is not able to produce it. As a result, it's crucial to ensure that you’re getting enough calcium through your diet by eating plenty of foods rich in calcium.

Learn more about this essential nutrient and explore the best sources of calcium to ensure you're getting the right amount to keep your body healthy!

What Is Calcium?

Calcium is a chemical element that belongs to the group of alkaline earth metals on the periodic table. In nature, calcium is one of the most abundant minerals, and it is essential for the proper functioning of various biological processes in humans, animals, and plants. 

How Much Calcium Do You Need? What Happens If You Don’t Get Enough Calcium? 

If you don't get enough calcium in your diet, it can lead to a variety of health issues and complications. This can include:

  • Osteoporosis
  • Increased risk of broken bones
  • Muscle cramps
  • Weak teeth
  • & more

The recommended daily intake of calcium varies depending on age, sex, and lifestyle. As a general guideline, the National Institutes of Health (NIH) provides the following calcium intake guidelines.

recommended daily calcium intake

Source:  National Institutes of Health.

The Best Sources Of Calcium (Dairy & Non-dairy Sources Of Calcium)

There are several excellent sources of calcium, and incorporating a variety of these foods into your diet can help ensure you meet your daily calcium needs. Here are some foods high in calcium:

  • Dairy sources of calcium
    • Milk 
    • Cheese (parmesan has the most)
    • Yogurt (avoid sugary yogurts)
    • Cottage cheese 
  • Non-dairy sources of calcium
    • Seeds (sesame, poppy, chia)
    • Sardines & canned salmon (due to their edible bones)
    • Almonds (almonds have some of the most calcium out of all nuts)
    • Leafy greens (kale, bok choy, spinach)
    • Fortified soy milk

Considering Calcium Supplements 

Diet is the best way to get the calcium your body needs to stay strong and healthy. Even if you are lactose intolerant, there are many high-calcium foods and drinks that can help you get your daily recommended amount. Instances where it may be time to talk to your doctor about taking a calcium supplement include:

  • Continual inability to incorporate foods with calcium in your diet (due to dietary restrictions, access to calcium-rich foods, etc.)
  • Diagnosis of a chronic health condition that decreases your ability to absorb calcium 

Think you may have a calcium deficiency or looking to improve your bone health? Schedule an appointment with Orthopedic Specialists today. 

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