Peak bone mass is achieved by late teens or early twenties. However, our need for calcium continues into adulthood. And older adults are often prescribed calcium supplements to minimize the risk for osteoporosis. There is a link we need to make here to vitamin D. Calcium is readily available in food (see list of calcium rich foods below) however, we need vitamin D to absorb calcium from the intestine. Vitamin D is obtained by exposure to sunlight. Lack of vitamin D leads to rickets ('brittle bone disease') due to this association with calcium. Now, researchers have told us that there is a re-emergence of nutritional rickets. In some areas, parents are prescribed multi-vitamin supplements and vitamin D by their GP. Our friend and mentor Professor Janice Thompson writes in her textbook (Nutrition - An Applied Approach) 'It is critical that older adults consume foods that are high in calcium and vitamin D and, when needed, use supplements.' Watch Dr. Pam Brown describe how to avoid osteoporosis.
There is also concern for children who prefer soft drinks to milk...This 'milk displacement is a recognised factor in low calcium, phosphorous, magnesium, potassium, and vitamin A intake and the subsequent risk for poor bone health'.
Calcium boosting recipe ideas
1 tablespoon of oats
½ pint of milk
1 tablespoon of low-fat plain yoghurt
A pinch of cinnamon
Method: chop the fruit into a blender then blend all of the ingredients!
Sardines on Toast
1 can sardine in oil, drained
Your favourite sauce (e.g Tabasco, chilli sauce)
Your favourite herbs (e.g. fresh coriander, fresh parsley)
Home-made tomato sauce
2 slices wholemeal bread
Method: mash-up sardines with sauce and herbs. Spread some home-made tomato sauce onto toasted wholemeal bread. Spoon on sardines.
Home-made tomato sauce: Fry one chopped onion, ginger, chilli (optional) and garlic in a pan. Add two tablespoons of tomato puree and 600 g finely chopped fresh tomatoes. Sizzle on a high heat for about 20 minutes. Cool, drain and blend (optional).
The picture actually shows fresh sardines on toast. We learned how to do this at River Cottage. The following recipe is also very good: sardines on toast with chickpea salad.
Ingredients: Bunch of kale (washed and dried) and Olive oil
Pre-heat the oven to 180 degrees
Spread Kale leaves onto a baking tray
Drizzle on olive oil and roast for 15 minutes
Although, Browns in Oxford serves boiled kale as a side and it is surprisingly tasty. If you're looking at their menu, check out their salads for great recipe ideas also.
Calcium deficiency symptoms
Calcium is required to build strong bones and teeth. Most children and teenagers can meet their RNI (recommended nutrient intake) for calcium by consuming dairy products. Calcium is also important for regulating muscle contraction and ensuring blood clots normally. Calcium deficiency can present itself as brittle hair, dull looking skin and muscle cramps.
Calcium Reference Nutrient Intake (i.e. how much you should consume in a day)
0 – 12 months 525 mg
1-3 years 350 mg
4 – 6 years 450 mg
7 – 10 years 550 mg
11 – 18 years boys 1000 mg
11 – 18 years girls 800 mg
19+ years 700 mg
Pregnant women 700 mg
Amount of calcium in 100 g of....
Low fat yogurt: 150 mg
Canned sardines: 550 mg
Dried figs: 250 mg
Cheese omelette: 280 mg
Spring greens: 75 mg
Curly kale: 150 mg
Spinach: 160 mg
Watercress: 170 mg
You don't need to use RNIs to plan your meals but, it is worth being aware of foods rich in micronutrients and to aim for variety when choosing fresh produce (vegetables and fruits). Use the Eatwell plate as a guide also to ensure you are achieving the correct balance of macro-nutrients (protein, carbohydrate, good fat). Feel free to contact us if you need further support and advice.
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