Thursday, January 20, 2011

Powerhouse Mineral!

by Kris Pitcher

Packed with calcium!
It's the most abundant mineral in the body. It needs magnesium, phosphorous, and vitamins D & K to be absorbed and used efficiently. What is it? Calcium! Calcium is a powerhouse of a mineral. It is essential for strong bones and teeth, which I bet you knew. But did you know that it is responsible for the release of certain hormones, essential for muscle contraction and relaxation, nerve functioning and it helps our blood to clot? Pretty important. Oh, and don't forget you heart is a muscle, so it's responsible for maintaining our heart beat.

The National Institutes of Health says that many Americans consume less than half of the amount recommended to build and maintain healthy bones. We lose between 400-500 mgs/day - see that long list of jobs it's got to do up there? And when we add things like soda, caffeine, and alcohol to our diets we lose more. So what?

Well, when we don't take enough in, our body takes what it needs from our bones. Over time, we develop osteoporosis, break a hip and then fall down the stairs. Not a good scenario.

Low-fat dairy, cheese, tofu, almonds, brewer's yeast, bok choy, Brazil nuts (although my sister is allergic to those), broccoli, cabbage, dried figs, kelp, dark leafy greens like kale, turnip, collard, dandelion, Swiss chard, hazelnuts, oysters, sardines and canned salmon are all great sources of dietary calcium. It is best to get the calcium you need from the foods you eat.

Spend a week focusing your nutrient tracking on your calcium to see if you are getting the recommended daily allowance for adults of:

19-50 years old - 1000 mg
51 & over - 1200 mg
pregnant & breast feeding under 19 - 1300 mg
pregnant & breast feeding over 19 - 1000 mg

Supplements come in different forms and should only be taken under the supervision of your doctor due to medication interactions. Supplements in the form of calcium citrate are the most easily absorbed and digested by the body. The body can only absorb 500 mg in one dose, so small doses are recommended along with a big glass of water to prevent constipation. Glug, glug!

Here is a great opportunity to look at some of the data you've been tracking and see if you are getting the calcium you need from your diet. Increase those dark green leafy vegetables for an extra daily dose of today's powerhouse mineral!

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