Calcium rich diet definition is that the diet which can provide calcium to the body. The calcium is needed by the body for the strong muscles and bones. Calcium is a very important component of our body.
A calcium rich diet is a food plan that contains foods rich with two minerals, calcium and magnesium. Foods rich in these minerals are not only necessary for building strong bones, but also for preventing heart diseases and various symptoms of menopause.
Calcium Rich Diet Definition
Calcium is more commonly known for its role in building and maintaining strong teeth and bones. It helps to prevent ‘thinning’ of the bones (osteoporosis). Making sure we have enough calcium will help to maintain bone strength and reduce the amount of bone that is lost as we age. It is the most abundant mineral in the body and because we can’t make it, we need to consume a diet rich in calcium.
How much calcium do we need?
Adults over the age of 18 years need around 700 mg of calcium per day. There are other circumstances where more calcium is required. This may be if you:
- Are aged 9-18 years (1300 mg). Children aged 4-8 years need about 800 mg per day.
- Are breastfeeding (1250 mg).
- Have coeliac disease or Crohn’s disease or ulcerative colitis (1000-1500 mg).
- Are a postmenopausal woman or man over 55 years old (1200 mg).
- Have ‘thinning’ of the bones (osteoporosis) (1000 mg).
You also need to make sure you are getting enough calcium if you have low calcium levels in the blood (hypocalcaemia) or are taking steroids. One of the side-effects of taking steroid tablets in the long term (for three months or more) is an increased risk of developing osteoporosis. This is known as steroid-induced osteoporosis.
There is some evidence that sodium in the diet, generally in the form of salt, can increase calcium loss from the body. It is generally a good idea to reduce dietary sodium, and certainly if you are trying to make sure your body gets plenty of calcium, it would be sensible to cut down on salt.
If you are on additional treatment for osteoporosis, such as alendronic acid then it is particularly important that you are eating enough calcium, as these treatments will not work if your calcium intake is too low.
People who are taking high doses of calcium supplements may increase their risk of heart disease but there is no association of increased risk with a diet which is naturally high in calcium.
What foods contain calcium?
The most well-known sources of calcium are milk and dairy products. However, calcium is also found in many other foods. This includes fish with edible bones such as tinned salmon, green leafy vegetables, nuts, seeds and fruits.
Some food manufacturers also enrich food products with calcium by adding it to certain foods – for example, in soya milk, orange juice, cereals and breads. In the UK, all wheat flour except wholemeal must be fortified with calcium.
Soy milk is made from whole soybeans or full-fat soy flour. The dry beans are soaked in water for a minimum of three hours up to overnight depending on the temperature of the water. The rehydrated beans then undergo wet grinding with enough added water to give the desired solids content to the final product which has a protein content of 1–4%, depending on the method of production. The ratio of water to beans on a weight basis is 10:1 for traditional soy milk. The resulting slurry or purée is brought to a boil to improve its taste properties, by heat inactivating soybean trypsin inhibitor, improve its flavor, and to sterilize the product. Heating at or near the boiling point is continued for a period of time, 15–20 minutes, followed by the removal of insoluble residues (soy pulp fiber) by straining/filtration.
Processing requires the use of an anti-foaming agent or natural defoamer during the boiling step. Bringing filtered soy milk to a boil avoids the problem of foaming. It is generally opaque, white or off-white in color, and approximately the same consistency as cow’s milk. Quality attributes during preparation include germination time for the beans used, acidity, total protein and carbohydrates, phytic acid content, and viscosity. Raw soy milk may be sweetened, flavored, and fortified with micronutrients. Once fully processed, soy milk products are typically sold in plastic bottles or plastic-coated cartons, such as tetrapaks
Milk and dairy sources of calcium
|Milk (any type)||200 ml||240 mg|
|Yoghurt||125 g||200 mg|
|Cheddar cheese||30 g||216 mg|
|Soft cheese triangle||15 g||100 mg|
|Cottage cheese||100 g||73 mg|
|Rice pudding||200 g||180 mg|
|Ice cream||60 g (one scoop)||78 mg|
|Custard||120 ml||150 mg|
Non-dairy sources of calcium
|Sardines||100 g (four sardines)||410 mg|
|Pilchards||100 g (two pilchards)||340 mg|
|Haddock||150 g fillet||150 mg|
|Baked beans||220 g (one half of a large can)||100 mg|
|Enriched soya/rice milk||200 ml||240 mg|
|Enriched orange juice||250 ml||300 mg|
|Tofu||100 g||500 mg|
|Spring green||100 g||200 mg|
|Spinach||100 g||150 mg|
|Watercress||50 g||75 mg|
|Broccoli||50 g||30 mg|
|Okra||50 g||130 mg|
|Kale||50 g||65 mg|
|Chickpeas||100 g||45 mg|
|Almonds||15 g||35 mg|
|Brazil nuts||15 g||26 mg|
|Sesame seeds||one tablespoon||160 mg|
|Dried figs||60 g (three figs)||150 mg|
|Calcium-enriched bread||Two slices (80 g)||300 mg|
|Currants||100 g||93 mg|
How much calcium do I eat?
There are web pages and apps which will help you add up the calcium in your diet to make sure you are getting as much as you need. See one such online calcium calculator here, and anotherhere.
If you find it difficult to get enough calcium from your diet – for example, if you are a vegan who is unable to tolerate soya – calcium supplement tablets are available at supermarkets and chemists.
Calcium is one of the most important minerals for the human body. It helps form and maintain healthy teeth and bones. A proper level of calcium in the body over a lifetime can help prevent osteoporosis.
Calcium helps your body with:
- Building strong bones and teeth
- Clotting blood
- Sending and receiving nerve signals
- Squeezing and relaxing muscles
- Releasing hormones and other chemicals
- Keeping a normal heartbeat
CALCIUM AND DAIRY PRODUCTS
Many foods contain calcium, but dairy products are the best source. Milk and dairy products such as yogurt, cheeses, and buttermilk contain a form of calcium that your body can easily absorb.
Whole milk (4% fat) is recommended for children ages 1 to 2. Most adults and children over age 2 should drink low-fat (2% or 1%) milk or skim milk and other dairy products. Removing the fat will not lower the amount of calcium in a dairy product.
- Yogurt, most cheeses, and buttermilk are excellent sources of calcium and come in low-fat or fat-free versions.
- Milk is also a good source of phosphorus and magnesium, which help the body absorb and use calcium.
- Vitamin D is needed to help your body use calcium. Milk is fortified with vitamin D for this reason.
OTHER SOURCES OF CALCIUM
Other sources of calcium that can help meet your body’s calcium needs include:
- Green leafy vegetables such as broccoli, collards, kale, mustard greens, turnip greens, and bok choy or Chinese cabbage
- Salmon and sardines canned with their soft bones
- Blackstrap molasses
- Almonds, Brazil nuts, sunflower seeds, tahini, and dried beans
Almond milk is made by blending almonds with water and then straining the mixture to remove the solids. You can also make it by adding water to almond butter.
It has a pleasant, nutty flavor and a creamy texture similar to that of regular milk. For this reason, it is a popular choice for people following a vegan diet and those who are allergic or intolerant to dairy.
You can find almond milk in most supermarkets, usually in the health food section. It is also very easy to make at home.
Commercial almond milk comes in a variety of brands and flavors. For health reasons, it is best to choose almond milk that does not contain added sugar.
Most brands are also enriched with vitamins, minerals, or protein. If you do not eat dairy, you might benefit from choosing products that are enriched with calcium.
Controlled studies have linked whole almonds to a variety of health benefits, but many of these may not apply to almond milk.
This is because manufacturers usually make the milk out of blanched (skinless) almonds, and they strain the liquid. This removes most of the fiber and a large portion of the almonds’ antioxidants.
Also, almond milk is watered down. It is a much less concentrated source of nutrients than whole almonds.
The concentration of nutrients in almond milk depends on how many almonds went into making it, the amount of added water it contains, and whether or not it contains any added vitamins and minerals.
Calcium is often added to food products. These include foods such as orange juice, soy milk, tofu, ready-to-eat cereals, and breads. These are a very good source of calcium for people who do not eat a lot of dairy products.
Ways to make sure you get enough calcium in your diet:
- Cook foods in a small amount of water for the shortest possible time to keep more calcium in the foods you eat. (This means steaming or sautéing to cook instead of boiling foods.)
- Be careful about the other foods you eat with calcium-rich foods. Certain fibers, such as wheat bran, and foods with oxalic acid (spinach and rhubarb) can bind with calcium and prevent it from being absorbed. This is why leafy greens are not considered an adequate source of calcium by themselves, because your body is unable to utilize much of the calcium they contain. People on a vegan diet need to be sure to also include soy products and fortified products in order to get enough calcium.
Calcium is also found in many multivitamin-mineral supplements. The amount varies, depending on the supplement. Dietary supplements may contain only calcium, or calcium with other nutrients such as vitamin D. Check the label on the Supplement Facts panel of the package to determine the amount of calcium in the supplement. Calcium absorption is best when taken in amounts of no more than 500 mg at a time.
Two commonly available forms of calcium dietary supplements include calcium citrate and calcium carbonate.
- Calcium citrate is the more expensive form of the supplement. It is taken up well by the body on a full or empty stomach.
- Calcium carbonate is less expensive. It is absorbed better by the body if taken with food. Calcium carbonate is found in over-the-counter antacid products such as Rolaids or Tums. Each chew or pill usually provides 200 to 400 mg of calcium. Check the label for the exact amount.