Calcium:The Amazing Body Booster

You know it as the bone builder, but here is calcium’s full healthy hot list: It strengthens your muscles, helps you slim down, and may even prevent cancer. Up your intake this World Osteoporosis Day (Oct 20).

Portrait of Tammy Strobel
You know it as the bone builder, but here is calcium’s full healthy hot list: It strengthens your muscles, helps you slim down, and may even prevent cancer. Up your intake this World Osteoporosis Day (Oct 20).

By now, we’re all up to speed on the calcium’s impact on bone density. but as doctors look more closely at what other benefits calcium delivers to the body, and especially to a fit woman, they’re pretty excited about its impressive roster of achievements. the mineral helps maintain proper muscle function, aids weight loss, and also carries the capacity to prevent serious illnesses, cancer included.

But many of us struggle to find ways to actually consume the recommended dietary allowance of 1,000mg a day, especially those who don’t eat dairy. as a result, half of adult women aren’t getting enough. and taking calcium in supplement form has been linked to possible health issues, such as heart disease, according to a recent study in the Journal of the American Heart Association. So what’s the solution? incorporate the expert-driven advice here, and you’ll work enough calcium into your diet to get stronger, fitter, and fortified.

Think outside the milk carton

Many greens are high in calcium, which gives you a lot more options in your quest. but you will need to be selective because your body can absorb the mineral from only certain types of these veggies. take kale: though it has less calcium per serving than spinach, your body absorbs 49 per cent of the nutrient, while it only gets a measly 5 per cent from spinach, the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition reports. other calcium-rich greens that are easily absorbed include bok choy and chinese cabbage.

Recruit some backup players

Aim to get 1,000 IU of vitamin D and 25g of fibre daily, and you’ll help your body take in calcium more efficiently. “vitamin D acts like a regulator, managing the calcium levels in your blood and distributing it to your bones,” taylor says. “Fibre promotes the growth of healthy gut bacteria, which in turn might help increase calcium absorption.” hit the target amounts from food (vitamin D is found in oily fish like salmon; fibre, in legumes and cruciferous vegetables).

Quit clustereating.Think longerterm

If your usual MO is to cover your calcium needs at breakfast with a bowl of cereal and milk, some yogurt, and a latte, you’re not actually in the clear to check the mineral off your list, says taylor Wallace, a professor in the department of nutrition and food studies at George Mason University in virginia. “your body can absorb only 500mg at a time,” taylor says. instead of consuming it in one big cluster at a single meal, eat three or four 300 to 500 mg servings of calcium throughout the day.

Remember: Less is more

Some days, like when you’re travelling, it may be impossible to get enough calcium from food, and that’s the one time when supplements can help. but go easy. pills make it easy to overdo it, says Dr erin Michos, an associate professor of medicine at Johns hopkins University, and that’s what can potentially lead to health problems. “if you’re not getting three servings of calcium a day through food, take one 300mg supplement for every serving you miss,” taylor says. he suggests choosing pills with calcium citrate over calcium carbonate, especially if you have a history of kidney stones.