What is the role of calcium in the body?
Our bones are used as a calcium storage area to release this precious mineral into our bloodstream when it is needed. Eating calcium-rich foods makes it possible for our bodies to achieve optimal nerve transmission (or “intercellular nerve communication”), blood clotting, hormone secretion and muscle contraction.
Another surprising benefit of eating calcium-rich foods? They may help to control your appetite and potentially facilitate weight loss. It’s believed that calcium foods can enhance sensations of satisfaction after eating.
Blood calcium is tightly controlled since it plays so many critical functions, including balancing your body’s acid/alkaline body and pH. The body borrows calcium from the bones as needed. In fact, this happens so often that the bones are rebuilt about every 10 years. Calcium is also important for controlling levels of magnesium, phosphorus & potassium in the blood.
The two most popular types of calcium supplements are calcium carbonate and calcium citrate. If you are going to take calcium supplements, aim to only take about 500 milligrams at one time, since your body cannot absorb much more than this at once. If you need a larger dose, plan to split up doses throughout the day. A great supplement can be found here: http://naturalvitality.com/natural-calm-plus-calcium/
Minor calcium deficiency symptoms can include:
Weak or brittle fingernails
More severe calcium deficiency symptoms can include:
Mental confusion, irritability, depression, and anxiety
Insufficient blood clotting
Osteopenia or osteoporosis
Growth and development delays in children
Heart problems involving blood pressure and heart rhythms
Most people immediately think of dairy products when they hear calcium, especially milk. While milk and other dairy products are certainly good sources of calcium, they aren’t the only options. It might surprise you that many different types of nondairy plant and animal-derived foods — including vegetables, fish, nuts and beans — also provide calcium.
Top 10 foods high in calcium based on calcium content:
Sardines (canned with bones included) — 1 cup: 569 milligrams (57 percent DV)
Yogurt or Kefir — 1 cup: 488 milligrams (49 percent DV)
Raw Milk plus (whey protein, made from milk) — 1 cup: 300 milligrams (30 percent DV)
Cheese — 1 ounce: 202 milligrams (20 percent DV)
Kale (raw) — 1 cup: 90.5 milligrams (9 percent DV)
Okra (raw) — 1 cup: 81 milligrams (8 percent DV)
Bok Choy — 1 cup: 74 milligrams (7 percent DV)
Almonds — 1 ounce: 73.9 milligrams (7 percent DV)
Broccoli — 1 cup: 42.8 milligrams (4 percent DV)
Watercress — 1 cup: 41 milligrams (4 percent DV)
Best Calcium Food Combinations
Some of the best high-calcium foods that are dairy-free include almonds, navy beans, black eyed peas, organic edamame/tofu, tortillas made with lime, sardines, rockfish, clams, seaweed, sesame seeds, sunflower seeds, butternut squash and sweet potato.
Whether you eat dairy and meat or not, a great way to load up on essential nutrients and antioxidants is to eat a variety of calcium-rich vegetables. Examples of vegetables high in calcium include broccoli, broccoli rabe, kale, Chinese cabbage, collard greens, okra, Swiss chard, green beans, rapini, carrots, turnip, rhubarb and watercress.
Are there any calcium-rich fruits? Yes — oranges and dried figs, for example, both provide some calcium.
Full-fat, grass-fed dairy foods (ideally those that are fermented like yogurt, some cheeses or kefir) are good source of not only calcium, but also vitamin K, phosphorus and to some degree vitamin D too.
A great way to eat a bunch of high-calcium foods all in one shot is to make a big salad with leafy greens, your favorite raw fermented cheese, almonds and a sesame tahini dressing.
Beans, greens and sweet potatoes are all sources of calcium, so consider making a big batch of soup that includes these foods and plenty of your favorite herbs and spices.
Whip up a smoothie using fermented yogurt, almond butter and berries or your favorite fruit (bonus if you can squeeze in some spinach or greens).
Remember that magnesium is key to calcium absorption, since these two minerals have a close working relationship. If you have a calcium deficiency or imbalance, then you are more likely to have a magnesium deficiency and vice versa (magnesium deficiency can often be a precursor to calcium imbalance). To utilize calcium properly, make sure to eat foods high in magnesium regularly — like leafy greens, cocoa / chocolate, avocado and bananas (notice how many of these foods also provide calcium).