That familiar milk mustache doesn’t just indicate strong bones and healthy teeth. Calcium actually plays an important role in your body’s health in many more ways. Many people are not getting enough calcium, so even if you don’t regularly drink milk, you still have several options for adding this important mineral to your diet.
How Calcium Helps
Studies show that more than 99% of the calcium in your body is actually in your teeth and bones, but the remaining 1% is extraordinarily important. According to an article entitled “Why Calcium is Good for Your Body” on Health.com, calcium also affects the hormones, muscle contractions, nerve system, and the body’s ability to stop blood flow by clotting. Some studies show that it may even help you avoid health issues like:
- Cancer – Some studies show a slight indication that adequate calcium intake can help prevent cancer, though supplements should not be taken for the direct purpose of lowering the risk of cancer. Excessive calcium intake might increase the risk of prostate cancer, according to some doctors, but a healthy level of calcium will provide an overall benefit.
- Blood pressure – Some studies show that regular calcium supplements can help regulate or lower blood pressure.
- PMS – Calcium levels typically drop when estrogen levels increase, so consistent calcium intake has been found to lower PMS symptoms, including cramps, headaches and irritability.
- Weight loss/maintenance – Some studies show that calcium supplements can make dieting more effective. researchers give one group of dieters a calcium pill and gave the second group of dieters a fake pill. The ones with calcium lost more weight than those with blank pills.
How the Body Uses Calcium
The recommended amount of calcium for ages 9 and older is 1,000-1,300 milligrams per day, but most people consume far less. This holds especially true for young women. Scientists recommend that most people add a daily calcium supplement to close the gap. However, you should always check with your doctor before adding new vitamins to your regimen.
The body uses calcium to create new bone tissue as well as initiate several other bodily functions. Since bones are composed of living tissue that is constantly being regenerated, this is an incredibly important function. If the body isn’t getting enough calcium, it will draw the mineral from the bones in order to allow other areas to function (muscle movement, etc.). This depleted supply of calcium in the bones can cause them to degenerate. It also plays a very important part in maintaining a healthy smile, so make sure you’re getting enough calcium if you want strong teeth!
How to Get Calcium
Aside from vitamin supplements, calcium can be found in many foods as well. Dairy is well-known for its high concentration of calcium, with one cup of skim milk containing approximately 300 milligrams. Cheese, yogurt and sour cream are also significant sources of calcium. If you can’t drink milk or prefer to avoid dairy products, you can also find calcium in foods like:
- Soy products
- Sesame butter
- Leafy greens
- Cereal grains like whole wheat, quinoa or oats
- Seafood like shrimp, oysters or salmon
- Nuts like walnuts, almonds and sesame seeds
On rare conditions, the body may react poorly if you take too much calcium, but this is very seldom the case. Typically, the body simply excretes any unused calcium. Most people could stand to add some calcium to their diets. With a little extra thought, you can add this mineral to your diet for the benefit of your teeth, bones, and the rest of your body.