Calcium is important throughout the life cycle, but it is especially important for growing children and aging adults. Calcium is the most common mineral in the human body, and 99 percent of this important mineral is found in the teeth and bones.

The rest is located in the soft tissue and blood. This is important to know because the blood must maintain constant calcium levels for muscle movements, nerve function and the moving of blood throughout the body. If someone does not take in sufficient amounts of calcium in his or her diet, the body will demineralize the bone to replenish the serum’s calcium levels.

But calcium is vital to the bones as well because it supports their hardness and structure. So demineralizing – removing calcium – can make the bones weak and reduce bone mass, a condition known as osteoporosis. White women and older adults who are physically inactive and small in-size are the most susceptible to osteoporosis, which is a problem because it can make bones more likely to break in the event of a fall.

What to eat

Thankfully, many of our foods today – from cereal to orange juice – are fortified with calcium. Women over the age of 50 should take in 1,200 milligrams of calcium per day, while men between 51 and 70 should take in 1,000 milligrams, and males older than 70 should consume 1,200 milligrams.

If you’re worried about not getting enough calcium, here are some foods to up your intake:

  • Dairy products: low-fat milk, cheese, yogurt
  • Dark, leafy greens: Collard greens, bok choy, broccoli, mustard greens, kale
  • Sardines: With the bone in, one serving gives you 888 milligrams of calcium!
  • Chia and sesame seeds
  • Soy
  • Tofu
  • Almonds
  • Salmon

Talk to your doctor about your calcium intake. He or she might recommend taking a daily supplement.

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