Good morning everyone! After last weeks craziness that was 5 outfits in one week we are back to the regular scheduled programming. Today I will be continuing with my “Power of Plants” Series ( Part 1 HERE ) and for today’s topic I will be discussing Calcium.
We are told countless times through TV adds, magazine articles and even from our Mom & Dad that we need to make sure we are getting enough calcium, and although this is true, the source that we are told to consume (ie Dairy) isn’t exactly the best for our health (more on this later). Plenty of plants contain high amounts calcium, you just have to know where to look!
So What is Calcium?
Calcium is our most essential mineral that is not only needed for strong bones but is also involved in so many functions such as muscle contraction & relaxation, blood clotting, the transmission of nerve impulses & enzyme activity. No matter how much calcium we consume out bodies naturally maintain the ideal amount of calcium in our blood and inside our cells with a very complex system.
To understand a little bit more about calcium you need to learn about Calcium Balance: which is the relationship between calcium intake and calcium output from the body. Our goal as adults is to maintain our calcium balance, ( ie Calcium Intake = Calcium Output ), however our absorption, excretion, & retention can differ from person to person and be affected by many different circumstances.
Absorption of calcium can differ from person to person but usually we absorpb about 15-20% of the calcium in food/beverages.
Here are 3 Tips to Improve Calcium Absorption:
- Make sure you are getting enough Vitamin D
- Vitamin D helps to maintain blood calcium at the correct levels by regulating the calcium movement in three places: absorption in the intestine, losses through the urine & the storage in the bones.
- Absorption of calcium occurs better when consumed in small amounts throughout the day rather than one large dose at a single time
- Certain substances in vegetables such as Oxalates ( found in spinach, Swiss chard, rhubarb & beet greens ) as well as some phytates can bind to the calcium, decreasing absorption.
Our diet has a large impact on the composition as well as the acidity of our urine, which then affects how much calcium we are losing. Overall there are two substance that are know as “Calcium Thieves”: Proteins & Sodium as well as Coffee & Phosphoric Acid to a lesser extent.
There are many lifestyle factors that can affect how much calcium we retain, although there are two main considerations:
- Estrogen – which appears to help in calcium absorption & help our bones to retain this mineral
- Research has shown that by consuming foods high in estrogen ( ie soy products ) may improve our bone density
- Exercise – when exercising a message is communicated to the bones to preserve the calcium and to keep the bones strong.
- 45 minutes – 1 hour of weight bearing exercises ( walking, running, cycyling etc. ) 3-5x per week as well as resistant training 3-5x per week is reccomended.
Calcium Rich Plant Foods
- Bok Choy, Raw, 2 Cups – 147 mg
- Broccoli, Raw, 2 Cups – 84 mg
- Collard Greens, Cooked, 1 Cup – 226 mg
- Kale, Raw, 2 Cups – 181 mg
- Romaine Lettuce, Raw, 2 Cups – 40 mg
- Figs, 5ish – 137 to 197 mg
- Orange, Medium – 52 mg
- Legumes & Soy Foods
- Garbanzo Beans, Cooked, 1 Cup – 80 mg
- Lentils, Cooked, 1 Cup – 38 mg
- Pinto Beans, Cooked, 1 Cup – 82 mg
- Green Soybeans (edamame), 1 Cup – 185 mg
- Almonds, 1/4 Cup – 115 mg
- Flaxseeds, 2 tbsp – 47 mg
- Hazelnuts, 1/4 Cup – 38 mg
- Black Strap Molasses, 1 tbsp – 176 mg
Plants are filled with all of the essential vitamins, minerals & macronutrients that we as humans need to survive, without the added “bonus” of cholesterol, additives or hormones. By just switching to one or two meals per week ( or even participating in Meatless Monday ) you will be making leaps and bounds towards better health as well as a better environment!