Clinical guidelines related to calcium are being revisited. For decades, calcium supplements have been recommended to prevent bone fractures, especially as we age. However, new safety concerns about this practice, especially on heart health have grown. We know that excess calcium increases the risk of kidney stones. Does too much calcium affect other organs like the heart as well? On going research is trending toward this possibility.
The best current evidence supports a recommendation to get your calcium from dietary sources rather than supplements. The problem? Most western diets (including the U.S.) traditionally have not achieved the recommended goals of calcium and its companion, Vitamin D which helps absorb calcium. However, this blogger has searched for the best sources of dietary calcium and believe it is surprisingly doable. Many of these foods (listed below) were not particularly popular a decade or so ago but if you consider the new "foodie" diet that is catching on among today's younger population, they are definitely on the increase.
Good sources of calcium:
- Dairy products (milk, cheese, yogurt---especially low fat options)
- Vegetables (broccoli, cabbage, spinach, greens of all kinds, okra, bok choy)
- Beans (tofu, white beans, hummus, soy beans)
- Fish (sardines/salmon canned with bones, tuna, perch, trout)
- Fortified orange juice and cereal
- Nuts (almonds, brazil nuts, sunflower seeds, tahini)
- Dried fruit (figs, apricots).
Calcium supplements have not been proven to be alarming, but doubts exist and if you can reach your vitamin goal via diet, it is certainly a good habit to develop.