Hidden Sources of Calcium: Milk is Just the Beginning

Calcium is an essential component in the vitamins and minerals your body needs to stay healthy. It keeps bones and teeth strong. Bones are not just there to keep your skin and muscles in place. Bones are living organisms that require food like the rest of your body in order to work to it’s fullest potential. It takes more than a couple glasses of milk in your diet to get sufficient quantities of calcium in your diet. Furthermore, in order for calcium to absorb into your body properly, you need vitamin D. These two components work together to ensure that you have optimal calcium intake.

Typically, when we think of calcium, dairy products come to mind such as milk and cheese. Expanding to other food groups as a source of calcium is not something that is typically thought of when planning a meal. In order to know what kinds of foods to incorporate into the diet, it’s helpful to know how much a person needs.

Infants – 600 mg per day
Children up to 10 years of age – 800 mg per day
Teenagers – 1200 mg per day
Adults to age 35 – 1200 mg per day
Adults 35-50 – 1000 mg per day
Post menopausal women – 1500 mg per day

For children, in addtion to milk, cheese and yogurt, which they all love, sneaking in some additional calcium sources is a good way to make sure they have all that they need.

Teenagers require more calcium than children because they grow so much during their teen years and their bodies are going from childhood to adulthood, having the added boost of calcium is essential in healthy growth.

There are some amazing sources of calcium that you may not have thought of. For instance, 1 cup of 1% milk contains 300 mg of calcium and 1 oz of cheese contains 204 mg of calcium. As you can see, that’s not even enough for an infant so how do you get more calcium into your children? Here is a list of calcium rich foods you may not have thought about that kids will eat.

1 cup of baked beans – 127 mg
1 cup of broccoli – 74 mg
2 oz of almonds – 150 mg
1 cup of calcium fortified orange juice – 300 mg

Many dark green leafy vegetables contain enormous amounts of calcium from kale to mustard greens to turnip greens. If these are not something your children like, these can be hidden in soups, casseroles, homemade breads and even meatloaf. These dark leafy greens contain anywhere from 180 to 450 mg of calcium.

In addition to baked beans, navy beans, pinto beans, lima beans, black beans, split peas and lentils hold anywhere from 20-140 mg of calcium. Children can get this type of calcium from tacos where refried beans are used to salsa where black beans can be incorporated to something as simple as a ham and bean soup using navy beans.

The highest concentration of calcium can be found in seafood. Shrimp, salmon, sardines all contain very high concentrations of calcium from 300 to 1000 mg.

Be sure that there is sufficient vitamin D in addition to the calcium intake so that it is absorbed properly. Generally speaking, only 30 minutes of sunshine a day is enough. Otherwise, daily vitamins are a good choice.

As you can see, there are many sources of calcium that can help you integrate this important mineral into your diet to keep yourself and your family healthy. It doesn’t matter where the calcium comes from, it’s just important that they get it.

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