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Lets talk Calcium...is it all about dairy?

Updated: Jun 7, 2023

Many people think that the only reason they may be low in calcium is because they do not take in enough dairy foods or drinks. Is this the only reason? It definitely is not the case as there are many reasons we may be low in calcium.



Why do we need calcium? It is an essential mineral for strong bones, healthy muscle contraction, nerve conduction, healthy heart and hormone regulation. The recommended daily intake is 500-1000mg for children and 1000-1300mg per day in adults.


Medications that we take may deplete certain nutrients, including calcium. Certain medications may lead to lower absorption due to reduced digestion function, they may decrease the bodies utilisation of minerals or compete with the absorption. Some medications that may lead to calcium depletion include antacids or stomach acid lowering medications, corticosteroids, some diuretics, antidepressants, anti-anxiety medications, some vasodilators and even some other mineral supplements.


A diet high in sugar and other acid forming foods that lead to the body to draw on calcium as a buffer to keep our pH stable. Any inflammatory food can lead to the body needing more calcium.


Poor diet choices that are not high in calcium rich foods or block the absorption of calcium. If the diet is high in grains, seeds, nuts and legumes then it may also is high phytic acid. Phytic acid is a substance found in many plant-based foods. this acid is the primary way phosphorus is stored in many plants, including beans, seeds, and nuts. When phytic acid is consumed, it binds to other minerals to create phytate which decreases our absorption of certain minerals inclusive of calcium. Soaking nuts, seeds, legumes and grains can decrease the phytic acid. The other thought is that consumption of high amounts of theses foods are only a problem if our bodies are already nutrient deficient.


Some restrictive diets may lead to calcium deficiency, These include the FODMAP, Paleo, Vegan and vegetarian diets that may restrict dairy products, some vegetables and nuts & seeds. That is why it is essential that when choosing to follow a highly restrictive diet for health or ethical reasons that you do your research or speak to someone who specialises in these diets so as not to restrict your essential vitamins and minerals.


Certain age groups may need more Calcium in the diet due the extra need during increased growth, such as children and teenagers. Women reach peak bone mass around the age of 25 to 30 years, when the skeleton has stopped growing and bones are at their strongest and thickest. The female hormone, oestrogen, plays an important role in maintaining bone strength. Estrogen maintains the uptake and utilisation of calcium but when estrogen levels drop around the time of menopause, this can result in increased bone loss. If your peak bone mass before menopause is less than ideal, any bone loss that occurs around menopause may result in osteoporosis.


A lack of Magnesium and Vitamin D can also lead to low calcium due to them both being needed to support absorption or utilisation within the body of calcium.


There are many reasons why our calcium may be low so;

  • Maintain a diet high in good quality calcium rich foods

  • Eat n anti inflammatory diet to reduce calcium loss from the bones and muscles,

  • Maintain good estrogen levels

  • Don't rely only on calcium but take the co-factors such as Vitamin C, Vitamin D3, Vitamin K1, Vitamin K2, Calcium, Magnesium, Zinc, Copper, Manganese, Boron, Vitamin E.

So maintaining healthy Calcium levels is not all about the dairy we drink.


In health & happiness,

Kirsty




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