]There are 206 reasons we need to consume sufficient amounts of calcium during our lives. Do you know why?
It is because calcium helps build and maintain each of the 206 bones in our bodies. Calcium also helps us develop strong teeth. And a small amount is needed for regulatory functions such as maintaining a normal heart beat.
From birth to age 20, our bones are in an active growth phase. During the first 10 years of growth, most of a child’s dietary calcium goes to develop strong, dense bones and permanent teeth.
We also need an adequate calcium intake up to about age 40 to help prevent osteoporosis. This disease, which causes brittle, fragile bones, usually occurs later in life. Since the development of osteoporosis can’t be reversed, it’s important for children and adolescents to get into the habit of consuming adequate amounts of calcium, and other necessary vitamins and minerals, to avoid the risk of this serious disease.
Regular exercise, especially strength-building activities, also is important to keep our bones sound and strong.
So, how much calcium do we need?
Children ages one through three years need 500 milligrams daily; children ages four through eight, 800 milligrams; teens ages 9 through 18, 1,300 milligrams, adults ages 19 through 50, 1,000 milligrams, and adults over age 50, 1,200 milligrams.
It is difficult to consume enough calcium without including milk or dairy foods in the diet. Today, you can choose from many lower-fat dairy products that are high in calcium yet low in calories. Some vegetables and fruits contain small amounts of calcium. These include bok choy (Chinese cabbage) broccoli, spinach, turnip and mustard greens, oranges and raisins. Many juices, cereals and breads are calcium-fortified.
Consider using a supplement if your diet doesn’t contain enough calcium. If you choose a supplement, calcium carbonate is well-absorbed into the body. Avoid oyster shells because they might be contaminated with chemicals.
Here is a recipe that is a good source of Calcium:
Strawberry frozen yogurt squares
1 cup crunchy wheat and barley cereal
3 cups fat free strawberry yogurt
1 10 oz. bag frozen unsweetened strawberries (2 ½ cups)
1 cup fat-free sweetened condensed milk
Line an 8x8 inch baking pan with foil. Sprinkle cereal evenly on the bottom of the pan and set aside. Place yogurt, strawberries and condensed milk in a blender. Cover and blend until smooth. Pour the mixture over top of the cereal, gently smoothing yogurt mixture to edges of pan. Cover with foil or plastic wrap and freeze for eight hours or until firm. Use edges of foil to loosen and remove from pan. Let thaw for five to 10 minutes before cutting and serving. Makes 9 servings. Per serving 170 calories, 0 grams fat, 36 grams of carbohydrate, 1 gram of fiber, 95 milligrams of sodium, 179 milligrams of calcium and 33 IU vitamin D.