Calcium is a mineral, with 99% of it in your body found in your bones and teeth. Calcium is necessary for the growth, structure, and conservation of your bones and plays a vital role in maintaining strong connections between different parts of your body. It is also important for the functioning of your muscles, neurons, and heart. Including foods rich in calcium in your diet is essential for keeping your body's functions healthy.
Your calcium levels can be tested through a urine sample test that shows the amount of calcium you consume throughout the day. Normal values for your calcium level typically range between 100-300 mg/day. But if you have a diet low in calcium or you’re experiencing other health issues, these levels might range between 50-150 mg/day.
Some potential reasons for being deficient in calcium include having a diet low in foods with calcium, a vitamin D deficiency, hormonal disorders, or high consumption of caffeine or alcohol.
Vitamin D Helps Calcium Absorption
Vitamin D is needed for absorbing calcium. Vitamin D has two forms: active and inactive. The active form is a hormone known as calcitriol, and one of its functions is to absorb the calcium from the food you eat.
The best way to get vitamin D in your body is by getting enough sunshine, but several foods also contain vitamin D. Vitamin D is so important for calcium absorption that even if you are eating plenty of foods that contain calcium, you won’t be reaping any of its benefits if you are deficient in vitamin D.
Because of this, it is important to eat foods that contain both calcium and vitamin D, as these foods can be effective for achieving a healthy body.
How Can You Increase Your Calcium Intake Through Your Diet?
Our diet is important for providing our bodies with all the nutrients and vitamins it needs. If your body’s calcium levels are low, it is important to focus on eating foods rich in calcium and vitamin D.
As you are likely already aware, there is a large amount of calcium in dairy products such as yogurt, cheese, milk, and calcium-fortified beverages like almond milk. At the same time, calcium is also found in other foods, whether it be dark green leafy greens like kale, spinach, cabbage, and arugula; canned fish like sardines and salmon (especially if you eat them with their soft bones); or navy, kidney, or garbanzo beans. The advantage to these alternatives to dairy is that they also contain vitamin D and thus ensure that the calcium contained in it is absorbed.
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Below is a sample menu for breakfast, lunch, dinner, and snack time. These sample menus include foods rich in calcium and vitamin D and can give you an idea of how to reach your calcium goals. As a bonus, all of these meals can be easily prepped for a busy week ahead!
- Cheesy Omelette with Vegetables - A combination of eggs with parmesan cheese and vegetables like kale or collard green can go well together. Making breakfast with any combination of these foods creates a meal high in calcium and vitamin D.
- Orange Kale Salad with Canned Salmon - A basic, delicious kale salad topped with seeds for flavor is all that you need to increase calcium in your diet. But you can take it a step further and make it even more filling by adding some canned salmon.
- Cottage Cheese Topped with Fruit - Cottage cheese doesn’t have a strong flavor, so it is best topped with fresh fruits or dried fruits like raisins and figs. It is rich in calcium and protein, helping you feel full for longer and stopping you from over-snacking.
Once you start eating foods rich in calcium alongside foods rich in vitamin D, you will support the absorption of calcium in your body and increase your body’s calcium levels. Remember that calcium needs vitamin D as a lifetime friend so it can be absorbed effectively.
Try to focus on including dairy products, dark green leafy vegetables, and fish high in fats with soft bones like canned salmon and sardines into your diet to reach your calcium needs.
Are you wondering about your calcium levels? We might have a solution for you! You can track your calcium levels and other wellness parameters using Vivoo from the comfort of your home! Vivoo is an at-home urine test that measures 9 wellness parameters like your hydration, vitamin C, magnesium, calcium, and ketone levels, among many others. After taking a test, the Vivoo App scores you on your overall wellness and provides you with detailed feedback on your body according to each parameter. But best of all, it shares personalized nutritional and lifestyle advice based on your results to help you improve. Are you ready to listen to your body’s voice?