As we step into the time of life that is termed ‘menopause’, we become aware that osteoporosis and bone issues can become an issue in later life. We often turn to calcium supplements and hoe into dairy products in an attempt to prevent these from taking hold, and the one nutrient that we think of is calcium. We ask ourselves…
Am I getting enough calcium?
Now, I find it interesting that the media has promoted both the consumption of dairy products and calcium supplements for the prevention and treatment of diseases associated with calcium deficiency; however, consuming the right kinds of calcium foods and supplements is not this simple. While dairy products contain ample amounts of calcium, the form of calcium in these foods is not easily absorbed or assimilated in the human body; this is the reason why the list of calcium-rich foods below does not contain any dairy products.
In foods, calcium occurs naturally in combination with magnesium, and calcium and magnesium also work closely together in the human body. Calcium-rich foods include all nuts and seeds and green leafy vegetables, so a simple plant-based diet is perfect for obtaining these nutrients.
As well as including calcium-rich foods in your diet, it is equally as important to ensure that you are not consuming any foods or medications that would deplete your body of calcium. Unfortunately, most people lose the fight with calcium; even with a diet high in calcium-rich foods, calcium absorption can be diminished by certain drugs and foods.
Fortunately, the foods that deplete calcium from the body can be easily avoided by following a whole foods plant-based diet. A diet that includes coffee, alcohol, red meat, carbonated drinks, sugar, and white flour products has some level of calcium depletion. These ‘foods’ listed above and highlighted should be removed from the diet immediately if calcium, teeth or bone issues are present in the body.
In situations where there has been significant bone loss or calcium depleting medications, it is often necessary to use a calcium supplement. In this situation, it is best to consult your naturopath for a specific calcium supplement suitable for you, as the wrong kind of calcium can do more harm than good. As a general rule of thumb, when purchasing a calcium supplement, “you get what you pay for”, so the cheapest option is not always the best. Also, avoiding calcium in a ‘carbonate’ form is essential as this is the most difficult form to absorb. Calcium in ‘citrate’, ‘orotate’ or ‘phosphate’ forms are more readily absorbed in the body, plus the inclusion of co-factors such as boron, silicon and zinc can also help with calcium absorption.
CALCIUM FOODS Chlorella, nuts, beans, root vegetables, sunflower seeds, spirulina, whole grains, green leafy vegetables, dried figs, sesame seeds, tahini, sprouts, molasses, sardines, salmon (with soft bones), almonds, asparagus, broccoli, brewer’s yeast, oats, kale, parsley, cabbage, carob pods and blackstrap molasses.
In summary, eating a whole foods plant-based diet rich in green leafy vegetables, nuts and seeds and avoiding sugar, coffee, alcohol, carbonated drinks, red meat and white flour products will put your body on the right track for calcium balance.
The information provided in this article is for information purposes only and should not be taken as medical advice. We recommend you consult with a GP or other healthcare professional before taking any action based on this article. While the author uses best endeavours to provide accurate and true content, the author makes no guarantees or promises regarding the accuracy, reliability or completeness of the information presented. If you rely on any information provided in this article, you do so at your own risk.