Bone up on calcium

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Why should you care about the amount of calcium in your diet?

There is more calcium in the body than any other mineral and it has several important functions.images

These include:

  • helping build strong bones and teeth
  • regulating muscle contractions, including heartbeat
  • ensuring blood clots normally
  • helps in a the absorption of vitamin B12, needed for a healthy nervous system

Good sources of calcium include:

  • imagesmilk, cheese and other dairy foods
  • green leafy vegetables, such as broccoli, cabbage and okra
  • soya beans, tofu and chickpeas
  • soya or other alternative dairy drinks and yoghurts with added calcium,
  • nuts, tahini and sesame seeds
  • bread and anything made with fortified flour
  • fish where you eat the bones, such as sardines
  • calcium fortified orange juice
  • Dried figs – about 6

It is important to make sure your children especially your daughters eat plenty of foods imageshigh in calcium so they have good bone density throughout their teens. it is thought that 1 in 10 teenage girls have very low intakes of calcium. By age 20, the amount of bone is at its greatest (called the peak bone mass), and then it slowly but steadily decreases. So, if not enough calcium is taken in during this critical period, less is available in the bones for the rest of life.  Encourage your children to drink milk and eat dairy products – even low fat if its gets them to eat it!

Calcium friends

Vitamin D – Your body needs vitamin D to help it absorb calcium. It is found in oily fish, liver, fortified spreads and cereals, and egg yolks. Your body also makes its own vitamin D when you’re exposed to sunshine.  Read more about this vitamin in my previous blog

Be active – doing weight bearing exercise like walking, running, dancing, lifting weights and skipping are all good activities to strengthen bones

Magnesium – calcium needs magnesium to aid absorption so eat plenty of green leafy veg, brown rice and nuts

Vitamin K2 – works in conjunction with Calcium and Vitamin D to keep your bones and heart healthy; found in offal, egg yolks and dairy products

Calcium foes

cola-drinksCoal drinks – Women who drink too many cola type fizzy drinks could have an increased risk of osteoporosis and fractures, because the phosphoric acid in these drinks has the potential to weaken bones. If the drinks also contain caffeine it could affect how much calcium is much absorbed in the body

Protein – Too much protein like read meat and poultry can drain the body of calcium

Salt – If you have a high salt diet, you will excrete a lot of sodium and with it a lot of calcium.  People who consume too much sodium  could face an increased risk of kidney stones.

Try this bone strengthening recipe – Tofu stirfry, serves 2

1 packet of Tofu 1 tsp soy sauce, 1 tsp honey, 1 tsp lemon juice
4 baby sweetcorn, sliced 3-4 broccoli florets
Handful of mange tout 1 onion, sliced
1 carrot sliced 1 small piece ginger, finely chopped/grated
1 clove garlic, finely chopped/grated Soy sauce
3 – 4 mushrooms, sliced Few leaves fresh coriander
1 packet quick cook noodles Vegetable oil for frying
Few chilli flakes Few sesame seeds
½ red pepper sliced
  1.  Open tofu and drain the liquid, break into bite sized pieces.  Make the marinade: imagesmix the soy sauce, honey and lemon juice together.  Add ½ clove garlic and half the ginger and a few chilli flakes
  1. Put the tofu in a heat proof shallow dish poor over the marinade and leave for at least 10 mins
  1. Heat the wok and pour in 1 tbls oil.  When hot add the onions and fry; turning all the time. Add remaining chilli flakes, garlic and ginger Add the carrots, pepper and broccoli.  Cook for 5 mins
  1. Turn on the grill and grill the tofu, turning until all sides are crispy
  1. Add to the wok mushrooms, baby corn and mange tout.  Cook for 2 mins add 1 tsp soy sauce.  Cook for 5 mins
  1. Add the ‘ready to cook noodles’ and some water if too dry. Add the tofu with sauce. Cook for 5 mins until noodles are hot
  1. Taste and adjust seasoning.  Add pepper if necessary.  Sprinkle over fresh coriander and sesame seed

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