A lot of us can’t imagine our morning lattes without almond or soy, but what about calcium? As someone who enjoyed his fair share of milk back in the day, did I get enough calcium to never worry about drinking it again? We caught up with Dietitian and Founder of Be Fit Food, Kate Save, to find out.
The impact of my childhood diet
As a young one, I ate and loved a bit of everything. Growing up in a multicultural household, there was everything from curry to meat and three veg and I couldn’t get enough flavoured milk. I’m the type of person who could have it with cereal in the morning and pizza at night.
For just the one ingredient it contained protein and a whopping 10 essential nutrients like potassium and zinc. So, for all of us who grew up drinking it, are we sorted now?
“There are significant and long-lasting benefits of including dairy products in your diet,” Kate notes. “This can be attributed to the array of essential nutrients found in dairy products such as ‘good old fashioned’ cow’s milk, including protein, calcium, and vitamin A. These nutrients are crucial for childhood development, and even have benefits within adulthood.”
So, do I still need calcium as an adult?
Yes. According to Kate, calcium is renowned for promoting strong bones and teeth, and also plays an important role in maintaining our overall bodily function.
“When a nerve triggers a muscle, calcium is released, allowing the muscle fibres to contract and enabling everything from a firm handshake to athletic endeavours, ” she says. “Calcium also reduces the risk of blood clotting by helping to regulate normal heart rhythms and nerve functions.”
How much calcium do I actually need?
Currently, it’s estimated we’re all downing around 850mg of calcium a day – which is under the minimum recommended serve of 1000mg. So, unsurprisingly, a whopping 80% of Aussie adults are missing out on the minimum recommended servings of milk, cheese, yoghurt and/or alternatives.
This isn’t good news for our bones, since strong ones are built during childhood, and maintained during adulthood. We need a steady intake of calcium every day to keep ’em strong.
According to the Australian Government’s Dietary Guidelines, we need 1,000mg of calcium each and every day. That’s equivalent to around five tubs of flavoured yoghurt, four servings of hard cheese, or four glasses of milk.
What are some good ways to get calcium as an adult?
So we all know milk is a big deal when it comes to the big C, but what else is out there?
Kate notes that dairy food items such as cheese and yoghurt are great for calcium intake.
She also suggests edamame (young green soybeans), tofu made with calcium sulphate, canned sardines, and salmon that includes the bones. On top of that, a variety of leafy greens such as collard, turnip, kale, bok choy, and spinach can all help with your calcium intake, but you might need a lot of ’em. For example, around half a kilo of kale is equivalent to drinking a 200ml glass of milk.
So, there you have it, you absolutely do need calcium as an adult — and at every stage of life, for that matter. Your bones will thank you later!