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Calcium: Not Just for Your Bones

food sources of calcium

Calcium is known for its contribution to bone health -- and for good reason. Bones and teeth hold over 99 percent of the body’s calcium, helping to form and maintain their structure. The remaining one percent of calcium in your body is hard at work.

Calcium plays a role in clotting blood. It works with vitamin K to speed up the clotting process, preventing excessive blood loss when an injury occurs. Muscles in the body also utilize calcium to contract and relax. Your heart is just one of the muscles that requires calcium for muscle contraction. Calcium works with sodium and potassium to support a regular heartbeat.

Adequate consumption of calcium is necessary to support your daily body functions. Registered dietitians recommend that 1,000 milligrams of calcium be consumed for adults ages 19 to 50. Women over 50 years and men over 70 years should aim for 1,200 milligrams per day. If calcium needs are not met with diet, calcium is taken from the bones to perform all of its other tasks, resulting in decreased bone density and strength.

Just as calcium is found in all areas of the body, it is found in a wide variety of foods, including dairy products, soybeans, broccoli, spinach, kale, almonds and oranges. If you are not getting enough calcium through your diet, a calcium supplement can help meet your needs.

Written by: Leslie Lewis, Wellness Workdays Dietetic Intern

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