Calcium. 2% of our bodies are made of the stuff, and it’s mostly found in our bones and teeth, although a lot is also stored in our tissues or blood. It’s vital that we get enough, too - it plays a crucial role in our bodily systems, regulating not only our skeletal health, but also our muscle and heart function, preventing blood clotting.
But sadly, we often don’t get enough of it! A recent National Nutritional Survey found that 90% of women and 70% of children don’t get what they need.
Before you reach for the supplements, though, know this: too much calcium can also cause problems! Your safest bet is to get your calcium from food. Here’s a quick guide on how much you should be getting per day, and then more on how you get it below:
Women 19-50: 1,000mg per day
Women 51-70: 1,300 mg per day
Men 19-70: 1,000 mg per day
Adults over 70: 1,300 mg per day.
And here’s how you can get your daily dose:
Milk and milk products
We’ve known it for years and it still holds true: dairy is a great source of calcium. Dairy products such as milk, yoghurt and cheese are rich in calcium, for example, one cup of milk or a 200g tub of yoghurt provides 300mg of calcium. To really up your calcium with dairy, try calcium-fortified milks - they can provide up to 400mg of calcium.
Leafy green vegetables
If you want more calcium, go green! Green vegetables such as cabbage, bok choy, spinach and broccoli are great sources of calcium. If you’re choosing between your options, though, go with broccoli. This is because broccoli has the highest absorption rate - a cup of cooked broccoli contains 45mg of calcium, but 50-60% will absorbed, whereas with a cup of cooked spinach, only 5% will be absorbed.
Soy and tofu
Vegetarians and vegans, rejoice! Soy and tofu are great sources of calcium. Traditional tofu contains 176mg per 100 grams, and some calcium-set tofus can contain even more - anything up to 350 mg.
If you’re a meat eater or pescetarian, good news - fish are also a great source of calcium! Sardines and salmon (with bones) are especially great. Just half a cup of canned salmon contains up to 402 mg of calcium.
One of the easiest ways to get your daily calcium, we think, is through teff! Teff, amazingly, has the same amount of calcium per gram as milk, but there’s so much more you can do with it! Put it in your bread, use the grain as a rice substitute, eat it as pancakes, pasta or muffins - whatever your preference is, teff can provide you with a myriad of options to get the calcium you need!