Calcium is important for all babies and children but it is especially important for women. This is because women require calcium more than men as they are more prone to bone health problems as they grow older. Calcium phosphate crystals account for approximately 70 percent of bone weight which is why calcium is considered to be the most important nutrient for good bone health.
A study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition showed that calcium deficiency in women is becoming a prevalent problem, in both rural and urban India. The dietary habits, especially of urban Indians, has undergone a drastic change in the last couple of decades, with an increased reliance on processed and packaged foods and a lowered intake of whole foods.
A study conducted by a hospital in Ludhiana showed that 20% of adolescent girls in the age group of 14 -17 suffer from calcium deficiency. The lead author, Dr. Iqbal Singh Ahuja told Times of India that, “These days, youngsters are more prone to lifestyle-related diseases.” He also said that, “It was found that they were not consuming adequate milk and eating a balanced diet. Earlier, such deficiencies were seen in elderly and pregnant women.”
“Girls in the 9 – 18 age group require 1300 mg of calcium while those in the 19 – 50 age group require 1000 mg of calcium per day”
Young girls have higher calcium requirements as compared to older women – Girls in the 9 – 18 age group require 1300 mg of calcium while those in the 19 – 50 age group require 1000 mg of calcium and those over the age of 50, require 1200 mg of calcium. Now that you know how much calcium you need on a daily basis, here are a few simple ways to prevent calcium deficiency in women.
Milk and milk products are among the best sources of calcium. While milk is a good source of calcium, yogurt is considered to be a healthier option as it is easier to digest. 1 small 100 ml cup of cow’s milk will provide about 14% of your daily requirement for calcium but 1 cup of fresh yogurt will meet 30% of your daily requirement for this mineral. Cheese is also a good source of calcium – 2 tablespoons of grated cheese will meet 20% of your daily calcium requirement.
In addition to milk products, there are a few other foods that are good sources of calcium. For instance, Pedvey Machli (sardines) are a good source of calcium as a 100 gram serving of this fish would meet 35% of a woman’s daily calcium needs. Palak (spinach) is also a good source of calcium as 1 cup of this leafy green vegetable will provide 25% of your daily calcium requirements. Til (sesame) seeds contain a decent amount of calcium – ¼ cup ofsesame seeds will provide 35% of your daily calcium requirement. You can have a homemade til ladoo as a healthy high-calcium dessert after your meals.
Your body requires vitamin D to absorb calcium efficiently so if you have a vitamin D deficiency, you are more likely to suffer from a calcium deficiency even though your calcium intake is not low as your body is unable to absorb the calcium from your food. Vitamin D also regulates the amount of calcium in the blood which is why this vitamin decreases bone loss, lowers the risk of fractures, and helps to prevent osteoporosis.
Your skin creates vitamin D when exposed to sunlight so you should go out for a quick 15-minute walk or jog early in the morning to ensure that you get your daily dose of this sunshine vitamin! Avoid the harsh afternoon sunlight and if you must go out during this time, use a sunscreen lotion.
Magnesium stimulates the production of a hormone called calcitonin. This hormone draws calcium out of the blood and back into the bones and this prevents osteoporosis and bone loss. Adequate levels of magnesium are also important as they have an indirect effect on calcium absorption – magnesium conveys vitamin D into its active form and this form of vitamin D increases calcium absorption.
Spinach is one of the best sources of magnesium as just one cup of spinach will meet almost 40% of your daily requirement for magnesium. Other magnesium-rich foods include dark green leafy veggies, nuts, seeds, beans, whole grains, yogurt, and bananas.
Calcium is one of the most important minerals as an adequate intake will help to prevent brittle bones, osteoporosis, and other bone health conditions. In addition to its effects on bone health, a calcium deficiency can result in problems with blood clotting, blood pressure problems, heart rhythm problems, and delays in children’s development. A deficiency in calcium can also cause overall weakness and fatigue, so if you find that you are constantly tired, a large bowl of yogurt might be just what the doctor ordered!
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