First of all, let’s talk about Calcium. What is it, where is it found in our body, and how much do we need?
Calcium is a mineral found in many foods, added to others and also available as a supplement. Our body needs calcium to maintain strong bones and to carry out many important functions. Almost all calcium is stored in bones and teeth for structural support. Even though Calcium is linked with bone health, our body also needs calcium for muscles to move and for nerves to carry messages between the brain and every body part. In addition to the above functions, calcium also helps in the release of certain key hormones and enzymes. The amount of calcium you need each day depends on your age. For an adult 19-50 years of age, the average daily recommended amount is 1,000 milligrams (mg). More information about Calcium rich foods and dietary supplements can be found on this website:
Our bones need plenty of calcium and vitamin D throughout childhood and adolescence to reach their peak strength and calcium content by about age 30. After that, bones slowly lose calcium, but people can help reduce these losses by getting recommended amounts of calcium throughout adulthood and by having a healthy, active lifestyle that includes weight-bearing physical activity (such as walking and running). So, this is good news for everyone who did not turn 30 yet! For me this was not the case, being a Milk hater all my life I missed this opportunity of banking the Calcium before I turned 30. Now, at Lottie I found it very convenient for students to choose foods rich in calcium. Find calcium rich foods in Lottie at these stations:
- Beverage Center – Low-fat or Non-fat Milk, Soy Milk, Yummy Chocolate Milk
- Salad Bar – Yogurt with Tasty Toppings, Cheese, Nuts and Dark Leafy Greens
- Deli – Cheese and Dark Leafy Greens to top your sandwich
- Pizza Station – Cheese Pizza
- Mongolian Grill – Calcium Fortified Tofu
- Breakfast Area – Fortified Cereals
- Main Entrees – Casseroles with cheese or milk base, Dark Leafy Green Vegetables Like Broccoli and Spinach, and Items with Cheese
Also, Calcium is added to some breakfast bars, fruit juices, soy and rice beverages, and tofu. To find out whether these foods have calcium, check the product labels.
Adequate calcium and vitamin D intakes as well as regular exercise are essential to keep bones healthy throughout life. Otherwise the risk for Osteoporosis increases. Osteoporosis is a disease of the bones in older adults (especially women) in which the bones become porous, fragile, and more prone to fracture. Osteoporosis is a serious public health problem for more than 10 million adults in the United States. So girls be extra careful! Check out this informative website to track your daily intake: http://www.bestbonesforever.gov/parents/foods/calculator.cfm
In conclusion, I want to emphasize why it is so important to bank the calcium before you reach the age of 30. Take that extra step and make sure you consume the recommended amount of 1000 mg per day (19-50 years). Choose low fat options which are easily available to you at Lottie. Reading labels will help you find the serving sizes of the food product or you can check the website: http://www.choosemyplate.gov/food-groups/dairy.html
Take good care of your body and make informed food choices!
- Written By Safoora Azeem, Senior Nutrition & Dietetics Major, Messiah College
- Reviewed by Susan Gilbert, RD, LDN, Messiah College Nutritionist