What Are The foods rich in calcium?
Everyone knows what calcium is and why it is needed. Generally calcium is only related to strengthening our bones and teeth. But there are other functions which depend on the right level of calcium intake as well. For example,
- To minimize the bone loss
- To keep the muscle and nervous system strong
- To prevent osteoporosis
- To manage high blood pressure
- Also to manage weight
These are some of its additional functions. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, an average child does not take enough calcium rich foods to meet the demands of the body. As is stated above, calcium will not only be utilized to keep the bones and teeth strong, it also has other functions to perform.
A diet that lacks calcium rich foods in the right amount can become the reason for a high risk of fractures and even osteoporosis from a younger age. Additionally, the body of that person will also fall behind in developing the optimal bone mass.
Just like it is generally thought that calcium is only meant for bones and teeth, similarly people usually think that milk, cheese and butter are the only sources of rich calcium when it is not entirely true. It is important to understand what are calcium rich foods and how much calcium is actually obtained from them.
Besides this, one also needs to know how much calcium is actually required by children and adults of different ages. For example if an average kid requires 3 servings of the recommended amount of calcium rich foods, then the adults require 4. Let us understand how much calcium is needed by our body daily.
Daily Calcium Requirements
The Food and Nutrition Board of the National Academy of Sciences has provided a general data of how much calcium is needed by kids of different ages. According to them,
- A kid belonging to the 1 – 3 years bracket would require almost 500 mg
- A kid belonging to the 4 – 8 years bracket needs 800 mg of calcium
- And a kid who belongs to the 9 – 18 years bracket would require almost 1,300 mg per day.
A thing to be noted here is that it is not enough to eat some servings of calcium rich foods daily; one needs to check what is the Daily Value Percentage of calcium in that product. It is often denoted by (%DV). Food products have labels on them which are supposed to mention the percentage each ingredient holds.
Usually the percentage is taken from a 1000 mg because it is based on adult requirements. For instance if the label reads that one slice of cheese or if one glass of milk is equivalent to 50% DV of calcium then it would automatically mean that the single serving contains 500 mg of calcium which is enough for a kid who is between 1 – 3 years. So whenever buying something from the calcium rich foods, always take care to look at the % DV count.
The Calcium Rich Foods
Having understood why calcium is needed and how to calculate the amount of calcium in every product, let’s move on to what all calcium rich foods are. Another thing that you need to consider is the different brands. You might find that a packet of cheese of different companies has different percentages of DV in it. Therefore you should take one which has higher amounts of % DV.
Below is a list of calcium rich foods
- Plain yogurt
- Fruit yogurt
- Greek yogurt
- Low fat, Non-fat or whole milk
- American Cheese
- Ricotta cheese
- Cheddar cheese
- Mozzarella cheese
- Milk Shakes
All of these above mentioned calcium rich foods might very well be having calcium in them but in different amounts. So a slice of cheese will not be equal to a glass of milk. Therefore when considering the amount of calcium, do read the labels.
These dairy products are a simple source of rich calcium and many people usually know about them. But sometimes a kid or a person is allergic to milk or any of the dairy products; luckily there are many other edible products that are a good source of calcium like
- Turnip Green
- White and Baked Beans
- Sesame seeds
These are some of the non-dairy calcium rich foods that one can choose as an alternative especially if calories are being taken into consideration.
Other than the dairy and the non-dairy calcium rich foods, there are products which are known as calcium-fortified foods. This means that many of the food products are now artificially made calcium rich to meet every body’s daily calcium requirements. Again these provide a variety of calcium rich foods to choose from. You can find,
- Breakfast cereal in which some of the good qualities include whole grain, raisin bran, cranberry crunch and honey clusters. Some of the very good brands provide 100% DV of calcium in every single serving.
- Orange juice that is calcium fortified
- Soy milk that is calcium fortified
- Calcium fortified oatmeal
- Bread and muffins that have been calcium fortified
Now you have a complete list of food products that are rich in calcium. Other than the abundant natural sources of calcium, anyone can choose from equally large non-natural food products that have been fortified with calcium.
However if you still don’t understand how much of each food product should be eaten or should be given to the kids then you can consult your family pediatrician to guide you. The pediatrician can assess how much calcium your or your kid’s body requires and then he can recommend the daily serving of calcium rich foods and if someone is low on calcium then he can also advice you a good calcium supplement because most of the children’s multi-vitamins don’t have calcium.
Another very important thing to remember is that, it is not enough to take the right amounts of calcium rich foods for your body to meet its needs. The body requires Vitamin D to allow the absorption of all this calcium, therefore a daily dose of sunlight is also necessary for kids and adults.