Calcium is an essential mineral that helps build bones and teeth, and plays a vital role in other body functions such as the contraction of muscles, clotting of blood, and transmission of nerve signals. Your body gets the calcium it needs from food, but if this is inadequate it takes calcium from your bones, which can cause them to weaken and put you at risk of developing osteoporosis. Vitamin D helps in the absorption of calcium.
The richest food sources of calcium are dairy products, followed by fish with edible bones, green leafy vegetables, tofu, beans and lentils.
Calcium-fortified foods such as soybean milk, cereal, bread and orange juice are other sources of this essential mineral. You can ascertain the calcium content of these packaged foods and beverages by reading their nutrition labels.
Singaporeans do not consume enough calcium, says Singapore’s Health Promotion Board (HPB), and it encourages both adults and children to eat a variety of calcium-rich foods to attain their daily recommended dietary allowance (RDA).
HPB’s RDA for calcium is:
19-50 years: 800mg
51 & above: 1,000mg
1-9 years: 500-700mg
10-18 years: 1,000mg
It’s best to get calcium from food, but if you aren’t able to meet your calcium requirements from dietary sources, you can consider taking a calcium supplement of up to 800mg, advises HPB.
The best dairy and non-dairy sources of calcium
(All calcium values are in mg)
Low-fat milk, 1 glass (250ml) = 380mg
Low-fat yoghurt, 1 carton (150g) = 240mg
Low-fat cheese, 1 slice (20g) = 200mg
Canned sardines (with bones), 1 fish (80g) = 270mg
Dried ikan bilis (with bones), 2 tbsp (40g) = 270mg
Green leafy vegetables:
Kai lan (cooked), 100g = 195mg
Spinach (cooked), 100g = 140mg
Chye sim (cooked), 100g = 140mg
Tau kwa, 90g = 150mg
Silken tofu, 150g = 100mg
Baked beans (canned), 210g = 110mg
Dhal (raw), 50g = 85mg
(Source: Health Promotion Board, Singapore)
More from the author:
- High blood pressure can be controlled with a healthy diet
- How beneficial are probiotics for your health?
- How effective is teeth whitening, and is it safe?
Follow Yahoo Lifestyle Singapore on Facebook.