Calcium is a mineral that is required by your body each day. The amount that you need varies based on your gender and your age. Adult women ages 19 to 50 need at least 1,000 milligrams of calcium each day to avoid health problems and deficiency symptoms, according to the Food and Nutrition Board at the Institute of Medicine. This amount is known as the recommended dietary allowance, or RDA.
The RDA is the minimum amount of calcium that you need each day. As you age, your RDA for calcium increases because of your risk for developing conditions such as osteoporosis. For women, the RDA increases to 1,200 milligrams of calcium once you reach the age of 51. The best way to ensure that you get ample calcium in your diet is to consume foods that are high in calcium, which can be accomplished by eating a balanced diet based primarily on nutrient-dense foods.
Calcium is found in many foods with dairy products being the most well-known. Milk, yogurt and cheese products are excellent sources of calcium, but it is also found in green leafy vegetables. Some good vegetable sources include broccoli, collards, kale, mustard greens, turnip greens, and bok choy. Other sources include salmon, sardines, shellfish, almonds and dried beans. In addition many breads, cereals and products such as orange juice are fortified with added calcium.
You need calcium each day because of the many important functions that it is involved in. Calcium is used in bone health, in the function of your nervous system, in muscle function, in the secretion of hormones and in blood vessel function. Without adequate calcium in your diet everyday, your body would not be able to perform these functions properly. Consuming the recommended 1,000 milligrams per day is an effective way to promote these functions and protect your overall health.
One thing to consider with calcium intake is whether or not you take too much. Calcium is important to your health and you need at least the RDA, but too much can cause problems. For this reason you should not consume more than 2,500 milligrams of calcium per day, according to Oregon State University. This is known as the tolerable upper limit and it changes as you age. Once you reach the age of 51, your upper level intake drops to 2,000 milligrams per day.
- broccoli image by Alison Bowden from Fotolia.com
This article reflects the views of the writer and does not necessarily reflect the views of Jillian Michaels or JillianMichaels.com.