What is calcium and why do we need it? | Raw C

What is calcium and why do we need it?

Millie Padula - Accredited Practising Dietitian

What is calcium and why do we need it?

Accredited Practising Dietitian, Nutritionist and Founder of Dietitian Edition dietitianedition.com, Millie Padula, takes a closer look at the benefits of calcium.

Calcium is a type of mineral and is actually the most abundant mineral in the body. This means there’s more calcium in our bodies than any other mineral, so its role in our overall health and wellbeing is very important

One per cent of the calcium in our bodies is required for heart and muscle function and hormone secretion. The other 99% is necessary to keep our bones strong and our teeth healthy. 

According to Australian Dietary Guidelines, adults should aim to consume three serves of dairy or dairy alternatives every single day to ensure we’re getting enough calcium. The richest dietary sources of calcium are dairy foods such as milk, cheese and yoghurt.

However, if you follow a plant-based diet or avoid dairy for whatever reason, you might be thinking how can I make sure I get enough calcium?

Don’t worry, Raw C have got you covered – just keep reading to find out how!

The shift to plant-based eating

If you’re following a vegan or plant-based diet or are dairy-free, you might find it hard to meet your dietary requirements when it comes to calcium, particularly when dairy foods are removed all together.

Without careful consideration and appropriate meal planning, these diets tend to lack the calcium needed each day and can place an individual at risk of osteoporosis, a condition which causes bones to become brittle and weak due to a lack of calcium in the diet.

If you don’t consume enough of this essential mineral each day, your body extracts the calcium from your bones to use for other bodily processes and leaves them fragile and susceptible to fractures and breaks. 

It’s not all bad news though! Through dietary education and the increased availability of calcium-fortified foods, it is absolutely possible for plant-based eaters and those who avoid dairy to reach their calcium needs!

Calcium on a plant-based diet

If you follow a plant-based diet, do your best to incorporate foods that naturally contain calcium as often as you can. These include green leafy vegetables, such as broccoli and cabbage, lentils and legumes, almonds, sesame seeds, tahini, dried fruit and seaweed. 

If you find it difficult to consume enough calcium through natural dietary sources alone, you can choose foods that have had calcium added to them during processing – these are called calcium fortified foods and are highly recommended for plant-based eaters.

Calcium fortified foods include calcium-set tofu, some plant milks, including Raw C’s Unsweetened Calcium Boosted Coconut Milk Calcium and certain varieties of breads and cereals. Check the nutrition label and ingredients list if you are unsure. 

Calcium Boosted Plant Milks 

As a Dietitian, my number one recommendation to ensure people who avoid dairy or follow a plant-based diet are consuming adequate amounts of calcium is to opt for calcium-fortified plant milks (if you include plant milks in your diet that is!)

Raw C’s Unsweetened Calcium Boosted Coconut Milk Calcium contains calcium derived from seaweed. Just one glass provides 25% of your daily calcium requirements. The seaweed extract is completely flavourless and when combined with the creaminess of the coconut milk, makes for a delicious and nutritious drink that’s the perfect calcium boosted dairy alternative. Great to add to smoothies, pour over your morning cereal or simply enjoy straight up – it’s an easy and tasty way to hit your calcium quota!

Millie Padula is the founder of Dietitian Edition, dietitianedition.com

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