Calcium is a naturally-occurring mineral that is vital to life for most organisms. In humans, it is needed for both healthy muscles and healthy bones.
This mineral is one of the major components of the human body and is required to keep the body operating efficiently. Still, scientists say that more than half of Americans do not get enough calcium.
Calcium is a major component of teeth and bones. Teeth and bones also store calcium for the rest of the body. If the body does not get enough calcium long-term, it will rob calcium from the storage compartments in the bones and lead to osteoporosis. Short-term effects of a calcium deficiency can include muscle-cramps and bone and tooth damage.
Most people are familiar with the concept of calcium in milk and dairy products and in supplements and vitamin or mineral fortified foods like cereal and orange juice, but there are also a wide variety of natural sources for calcium. But keep in mind, the body cannot properly use calcium without Vitamin D. Good sources of Vitamin D include sunshine and dairy products.
Many fruits are very good sources calcium but among the best are dried fruits such as raisins, figs, and dried apricots. Dark green vegetables, like broccoli, are good sources of calcium, as are dried beans and legumes.
Citrus fruits, lemons and oranges are naturally high in calcium as are soybeans and tofu. Most forms of meat are natural sources of calcium, but not in as significant quantities as fruits and vegetables. Fish, especially salmon and sardines, are very good sources of calcium often offering as much as three times as much calcium as the same sized portion of beef or pork.
Other good sources of calcium include almonds and other nuts and of course dairy products. Aged cheeses tend to be even better sources of calcium than cow”s milk, with Parmesan cheese and cheddar cheese among the best sources of calcium available.
In addition, some herbs and seasonings are also good sources of calcium. Among the best are sesame seeds, curry powder and dried mustard.
The benefits of naturally occurring calcium can be endangered by the consumption of food that restricts the body”s ability to absorb it. Caffeine, salt and phosphoric acid are all hindrances when it comes to absorbing calcium. One of the biggest offenders in providing these inhibitors is carbonated beverages, both regular and diet soda.