Calcium via food – here are the sources to focus on

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As with most things, you can get adequate levels of calcium through your diet, here are the sources you should focus on to achieve a good calcium level and whether you may need to add calcium through supplements.

How to get calcium through your diet

If you have a balanced and varied diet that includes leafy greens, dairy products, and nuts, you can get sufficient amounts of calcium from your food. Some types of fish also contain a small but notable amount of calcium.

Leafy greens

Calcium is abundant in leafy greens such as kale, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, bok choy, spinach, and common leafy salads.

  • Kale: Kale is an excellent source of calcium. One cup of cooked kale can contain approximately 94 milligrams of calcium.
  • Broccoli: Broccoli is a nutritious vegetable that also contains calcium. One cup of cooked broccoli can provide about 62 milligrams of calcium.
  • Brussels sprouts: Brussels sprouts contribute to calcium intake. One cup of cooked Brussels sprouts contains around 56 milligrams of calcium.
  • Bok choy (chinese cabbage): Bok choy is a Chinese cabbage variant and an excellent source of calcium. One cup of cooked bok choy can contain approximately 158 milligrams of calcium.
  • Spinach: While spinach contains calcium, it's important to note that it also contains oxalates, which can limit calcium absorption. So, while spinach can be part of your diet, diversify your intake with other leafy greens.
  • Leafy salad: Some blends of leafy salad, such as romaine lettuce or baby spinach, can also contribute to calcium intake.

Dairy products

Dairy products like milk, yogurt, and cheese are good sources of calcium. Choose lean or reduced-fat dairy products if you're concerned about high saturated fat intake. To benefit from various nutrients and flavors, include different types of dairy products.

  • Milk: Milk is one of the most well-known sources of calcium. Whether it's regular milk or alternative milk types (such as almond milk, soy milk, or oat milk), the amount of calcium depends on how the product is fortified.
  • Yogurt: Yogurt is a tasty source of calcium. The amount of calcium varies depending on the brand and type of yogurt.
  • Cheese: Different types of cheese, especially hard cheeses like cheddar or mozzarella, contain significant amounts of calcium. Soft cheeses can also contribute, but to a lesser extent.
  • Sour cream and crème fraîche: These dairy products also contain calcium, but it's essential to consume them in moderation due to their higher fat content.

If you are lactose intolerant or have a milk allergy, consider alternative dairy products or calcium-enriched foods. Also, check the label, as many dairy products are fortified with extra calcium and vitamin D.

Nuts

Nuts are not the primary source of calcium, but they can be a tasty and healthy addition to your diet. Although they do not contain the highest amounts of calcium, they provide some.

  • Almonds: Almonds contain some calcium. Approximately one deciliter of almonds provides about 76 milligrams of calcium.
  • Hazelnuts or brazil Nuts: These nuts also contain a small amount of calcium. Approximately one deciliter of Brazil nuts provides about 32 milligrams of calcium.
  • Walnuts: Walnuts can also contribute a certain amount of calcium. About one deciliter of walnuts provides about 29 milligrams of calcium.
  • Almond or hazelnut flour: Using nut flour in baking or cooking can be a way to increase calcium intake. However, note that when nuts are ground into flour, the calcium content per unit volume may decrease.

Fish

Generally, fish is not a primary source compared to dairy products and the vegetables mentioned above. The calcium content in fish varies between different types, and some that can contribute to calcium intake include:

  • Sardines: Sardines, especially those with bones, are a good source of calcium. Consuming whole sardines with their small bones provides a significant amount of calcium.
  • Salmon: Salmon is a fatty fish and also contains some calcium.
  • Anchovies: Anchovies are another fish usually consumed with bones and can contribute to calcium intake.

Is calcium supplementation necessary?

The best approach is to try to obtain calcium through food. However, individuals who struggle to meet the recommended daily intake of calcium through their diet may need to supplement their intake. This may include people with lactose intolerance or a milk allergy, those avoiding dairy due to a specific diet, older individuals who may have difficulty absorbing calcium from food, women after menopause who are at greater risk of osteoporosis, and individuals with certain medical conditions such as inflammatory bowel diseases or malabsorption syndromes.

Excessive calcium consumption can lead to adverse health effects. Therefore, before making significant changes that could cause this, it's advisable to test calcium levels to ensure any need for supplementation and consult with a doctor or dietitian for individual guidance.

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