Did you know there are so many ways to get calcium, even if you can’t eat dairy? And that calcium is just one piece of the puzzle for healthy bones? I am healing a fractured sacrum (the large, flat bone at the base of your spine) from a fall onto concrete. So doing all the right things for healthy bone repair has been a priority for me this past month. And the reason I haven’t written a blog in a while. Turns out typing while lying down isn’t that easy! And I’ve been focussing all my energy on healing and seeing my beautiful clients on FaceTime (thanks for being so understanding!).
I’ve been intolerant to cow’s dairy for my whole life – although I didn’t know it for most of that time. And even though I can tolerate sheep and goat’s dairy, many people can’t. But the good news is, this doesn’t matter for bone health at all! While dairy foods are high in calcium, they may not be the best sources of calcium after all. Dairy foods are also high in phosphorus, which can actually contribute to excretion of calcium from our bodies. So, while you might be eating lots of calcium, is it actually getting to your bones?
Getting the calcium from the foods you eat into your bones is an essential part of the process. That can only be done with enough vitamin D and vitamin K. Vitamin D comes primarily from the sun, so while you don’t want to get burnt, you do need about 10-30 minutes of sun every day. If your levels are lower than 80 – 100, you should take a supplement (as vitamin D is essential for many other functions too, especially your immune health). Vitamin K and vitamin D are converted to their active form in the gut, so there is another reason to look after your gut health! A healthy gut directly leads to healthier bones (among many other things!). Vitamin K is also derived from dark green leafy veggies.
Did you know our bones are actually breaking down and rebuilding continuously? So even though I need even more support to heal a broken bone, we all need the building blocks every day. Hormone levels affect bone health too – we’ve all heard of osteoporosis being more prevalent in post-menopausal women. And pregnant women and kids have a high need too, as they are growing bones every day. Everyone needs about 800mg calcium a day, or 1000mg if your needs are higher.
Now that we know strong bones are about more than just the calcium content of foods, and that we all need to think about our bone health, which foods are the best to eat for healthy bones? Luckily, there are many everyday foods that are high in calcium, and if you eat around 4 servings every day, you are getting plenty of calcium.
- Tahini (Sesame seeds) – 20g or 1 tbsp gives 310mg calcium
- Chia seeds – 1/4 cups equals over 200g calcium
- Fresh leafy greens such as kale, bok choy, silverbeet and spinach – 2 cups raw makes nearly 200mg
- Sardines (5) or tinned salmon (1/2 cup) with bones is 200-300mg
- Chickpeas or kidney beans – ½ cup is nearly 200mg
- Prawns (1 cup) and mussels (6) give over 120mg calcium
- Figs – fresh or dried gives over 100mg calcium
- Almonds – raw or activated or very lightly roasted – 20 nuts is 72mg
- Blackstrap molasses (contains all the essential minerals and vitamins that are removed from sugar cane in the processing of raw or caster sugar) – 1 tbsp equals 72mg
- Soy beans – fresh, tofu, tempeh or soy milk made from whole soy beans – 80g tofu is nearly 100mg
Cucumber, pumpkin, oranges, apricots, broccoli and zucchini all have calcium too! Check out my recipe for bone healing bliss balls, packed with chia, tahini and almonds.
As you can see, eating a healthy diet full of different coloured fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds and healthy protein foods, all contributes to your daily calcium intake. All the more reason to eat well, every day. And look after your gut health and vitamin D levels too, to aid conversion of calcium from your food into your bones.
If you need advice on how to turn these foods into delicious meals or an eating plan, stick to your goals, or clear the emotions that are preventing you from being your healthiest self, come and see me in clinic. Call 9482 4877 to make an appointment, or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org