If you've told anyone you follow a Paleo diet, one of the typical responses you’ve probably got back, is bound to be “but how can you get enough Calcium?”
As part of any healthy lifestyle it is essential to have a decent amount of calcium in the diet, as it is involved in so many crucial functions. Calcium is known to strengthen the bones and teeth and can help to reduce the risk of suffering from osteoporosis, which causes brittle bones and can be very detrimental in the quality of life for sufferers. It is also thought the mineral can help to prevent cardiovascular disease and other illnesses which can cause a lot of problems in later life.
In order to really get the benefits from calcium, it is important to incorporate it with other nutrients and vitamins, as they work in conjunction with each other to produce the most effective results. Vitamins such as C and D3 help the body to absorb calcium so that the benefits are maximised. If these vitamins are not present in the diet, it won’t be absorbed sufficiently, which means the calcium won’t offer the benefits you would expect from it.
We don’t all require the same intake of calcium; there are factors which affect the level of calcium we should consume in our diet. Children require a lower level than adults and women are usually required to take in more calcium than men. Pregnant women should also try to take in a higher level of calcium as it will be beneficial for both mother and baby.
We know that calcium is essential for the body, but we have been led to believe that we need a lot more in our diet than what we actually need. It is also a misconception that the only way we can get the calcium we need is through the consumption of dairy products and in particular milk, which is not the case. There are many other foods which provide a good quantity of calcium and more than enough to ensure we have an adequate amount in our bodies. It can also be detrimental if we consume too much calcium, as it inhibits the absorption of magnesium. Magnesium is important for a healthy body and a lack of this can have an adverse effect on the body.
As a strict Paleo diet excludes dairy, many people wrongly assume eating this way will result in a Calcium deficiency. However, this simply is not the case. Not only are there some far better sources than milk – when the processed foods are removed from your diet your calcium requirements are actually lower. In fact, it is not calcium intake that is important, rather calcium balance. Processed things such as soft drinks actually use calcium in their digestion – effectively leeching calcium from your body. If you eat a lot of these types of foods, your calcium requirements are clearly going to be a lot higher. When you eat a natural Paleo diet – real food – your requirements are going to be a lot less.
Good Paleo Calcium Sources
There are lots of foods other than dairy products which many people just don’t associate with calcium. These foods act as a good source of calcium and provide us with other health benefits, including providing an adequate amounts of essential vitamins and other minerals.
Leafy green vegetables are a great calcium sources, as are high quantity of fish, such as salmon and mackerel. These can also offer a substantial amount of the mineral, as well as providing us with vitamins and antioxidants which are the perfect way of maintaining a healthy lifestyle.
Walnuts and hazelnuts are other foods which act as a good source of calcium. It is important not to eat too many of these though due to the Omega 3/6 ratio, so sticking to a low quantity will achieve the desired result. Eggs are also a way of ensuring calcium is present in the body and in particular egg yolks are a good source. It is a good idea to take note of the calcium levels of the foods you are eating, so you know whether you are taking in too much or too little.
Do you eat dairy? Where do you get most of your calcium from? Share in the comments below!