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Nutritional Spotlight: Calcium

We often associate calcium with dairy ads from the ’90s, but this mighty mineral is so much more than a tall glass of milk.

Though our bodies are able to manufacture a small amount of calcium on their own, it’s not enough to replace what’s lost daily through our skin, nails, hair, and sweat. And since calcium is such a crucial component of our skeletal and nervous systems, it’s necessary we replace the lost supply to stay in tip-top shape.

The Benefits

Calcium’s most touted claim to fame is that it plays a major role in strengthening bones and teeth. As bone development and density begins to suffer in our 30s, calcium becomes an increasingly important supplement to take on the regular. It can even decrease bone loss during the aging process, staving off osteoporosis, broken bones, and other skeletal issues that would otherwise take away from the active lifestyle we’ve learned to love over the decades.

What you might not know about calcium is that it also helps our nerves transport messages to different areas of our bodies, and it plays an important role in muscle contraction. Basically, this is not a mineral anyone should skimp on.

The Best Bets

Too many women over the age of 45 fail to get enough calcium daily — but you don’t have to be one of them. Doctors recommend approximately 1,000–1,200 milligrams daily from either supplements or food sources. If you’re going the dairy route, choose the least processed forms of dairy possible — whole milk and plain yogurts that have not been stripped of their nutrients for the sake of a “nonfat” label or sugary taste are great choices. You can also get calcium in the form of green vegetables, such as spinach, kale, bok choy, and broccoli, and other plant sources like soybeans, almonds, tahini, and oranges.

Looking for a supplement? We like the one from Pure Encapsulations. It also provides magnesium, which helps your body reap the best benefits.

Photo: a_namenko

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