When it comes to your body, there are a couple of essential nutrients that all of us need but probably aren’t getting enough of. With that in mind, your favorite caveman Scratch is here to give you a crash-course in what our bodies need not just to get by, but also to function at top form. One of the absolutely essential nutrients that we all need is calcium.
Now, most of us probably start our mornings off in a similar way – a nice cup of coffee, maybe some cream, and a bowl of cereal. For a lot of us, our milk intake stops there and we just don’t drink any more milk for the rest of the day. Hate to break it to you, Rockheads, but that cup of milk you take in with your Frosted Flakes just ain’t enough for your body. On average, people should try to get in at least 1,000 milligrams of calcium a day. A single eight-ounce glass of milk only contains about 300 milligrams of calcium. Surprised? So are a lot of Americans. More than 50% of men and nearly 80% of women over the age of twenty in this country aren’t getting enough calcium.
But why exactly is calcium important? Well, for one, it builds strong bones and teeth. If you don’t think that’s important, just wait until you hit your mid-fifties and have osteoporosis bangin’ down your door. Shockingly, over 55% of Americans over the age of 50 are afflicted with osteoporosis – making it the most frequently occurring bone disease in the United States. You may not know this, but your bones are constantly being broken down and rebuilt. When you get older, your bones break down more quickly and repair themselves much more slowly. Calcium helps boost rebuilding and keeps your bones strong. This is especially important for postmenopausal women.
But bone health isn’t the only thing that good ol’ calcium helps out with. Calcium improves other bodily functions like muscle contraction, blood vessel contraction and expansion, hormone secretion, enzyme secretion, and nervous system function.
So other than that measly milk you drink with your cereal, how else can your body take in more calcium? The three foods that most people associate with calcium are milk, yogurt, and cheese. While these foods are certainly calcium rich, you may be surprised to know that there are foods out there that are even more jam-packed with calcium goodness. The top ten calcium rich foods are: dried herbs, cheese (parmesan has the highest calcium content), sesame seeds, tofu, almonds, flax seeds, yogurt (and other dairy products), green leafy vegetables (like turnip, mustard, and kale), brazil nuts, and herring. Bet you didn’t see that herring one coming, did ya? Calcium rich foods like almonds and kale mean that people with lactose allergies or other dietary restrictions (like veganism) don’t have to miss out on all of the great benefits that your body gets from calcium.
If you find that you’re still not able to work in those 1,000 milligrams of calcium that you’re supposed to have each day, you may want to consider adding a calcium supplement into your daily routine. The average American takes in somewhere between 400 and 600 milligrams of calcium a day. By adding a 500 milligram calcium supplement to your diet every day, you’re getting your body back on track. That being said, it is possible to have too much of a good thing when it comes to calcium. Ingesting too much calcium can lead to milk-alkali syndrome, interference with iron absorption, or even cause kidney stones. So if you decide that a calcium supplement may be right for you, be sure to consult a physician before you start taking the supplement on a regular basis.
If you’re concerned with bone strength and the possibility of osteoporosis, then the best thing you can do for your body (and your future self) is to start taking in more calcium. These caveman bones have been around the bend once or twice so take it from me, calcium is key!