Eat These 10 Calcium-Rich Foods For Balanced Hormones

When it comes to women’s health, there is one nutrient that hardly gets any attention. Unlike the ever-popular protein, magnesium, and fiber, this superstar mineral barely gets the attention it deserves. Enter: calcium. But in our quest for feminine vitality and strength, calcium cannot be ignored. From supporting bone health to aiding in muscle function, as well as playing a crucial role in hormone balance, calcium is key. With that in mind, do you need to swallow gallons of milk? Not fortunately. Calcium-rich foods run the gamut, and there’s no better time to look beyond the carton of milk. Today we share all the details. Let’s give your bones a boost with these calcium-packed alternatives.

Featured image by Michelle Nash.

Cow’s milk for calcium: fact or fiction?

“Do you have milk?”—a phrase that takes most of us back to the early ’90s, when a milk mustache was a badge of honor. But beyond the catchy tagline and celebrity endorsements, do those ads hold any truth? Is dairy really the best way to get your daily dose of calcium? Spoiler alert: cow’s milk is not your only option.

Without further ado, we are breaking down the calcium puzzle. Get ready to discover a world of nutritious, calcium-rich foods. And if you thought that calcium is only important for children, think again! Is particularly important as we get older.

Image by Michelle Nash

Why do we need calcium?

Calcium is a vital mineral. And while it’s crucial for overall health, it also works in conjunction with other nutrients (think vitamin D) to optimize absorption. This is similar to how iron and vitamin C work together. Ultimately, without calcium, we rapidly lose homeostasis. To set the stage, below are the key reasons why we need calcium and what it does:

1. Build strong bones and teeth

Calcium is a fundamental building block for our skeletal system. It plays a crucial role in the formation, growth and maintenance of bones. Adequate calcium intake is essential throughout our lives to maintain healthy bone density, prevent bone loss, and reduce the risk of conditions such as osteoporosis and fractures. Also, calcium contributes to strong teeth! Hello, dental health and minimization of cavities.

2. Supports muscle function

Like magnesium, calcium is also involved in muscle contraction and relaxation. When a nerve signal causes a muscle to contract, calcium ions are released, allowing the muscle fibers to contract and generate movement. Sufficient calcium levels ensure proper muscle function (including muscle tone).

3. Plays a vital role in nerve transmission

Without calcium, our nerve cells would lack communication. It helps transmit nerve impulses throughout the body, allowing signals to be sent between the brain, spinal cord, and various organs. This facilitates everything from sensory perception to motor control and more.

4. Essential for blood clotting

Did you know that calcium helps prevent excessive bleeding? When a blood vessel is injured, calcium helps blood clots to form, sealing the damaged area and starting the healing process.

5. Helps regulate hormones

If you’re trying to balance your hormones, make sure your calcium levels are normal. After all, this mineral helps regulate various hormones and enzymes within the body.

6. Helps in cell function

Last but not least, calcium plays a role in cell signaling (think: cell division, cell growth, DNA synthesis, etc.). In other words, it makes sure that cells communicate correctly.

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How much calcium do women need?

Unfortunately, studies show that many Americans don’t get enough calcium, especially older women. Both men and women, ages 19 to 50, should aim for 1,000 mg of calcium daily. If you’re over 51, talk to your healthcare provider about the proper dosage (you’ll probably need at least 1,200 mg of calcium).

But while he gets enough calcium is important, we don’t want too much. Excess calcium can have consequences: constipation, kidney stones, kidney failure, heart function problems, and cognitive problems. When it comes to choosing the best calcium supplement, work with your doctor to find the right dosage.

signs of calcium deficiency

Interestingly, early-stage calcium deficiency may not cause any noticeable symptoms. That being said, as time goes by, symptoms will develop. Calcium deficiency disorders (osteoporosis, osteopenia, and hypocalcemia) can present in many forms. For example, memory loss, muscle spasms, tingling hands and feet, hallucinations, weak and brittle nails, easy bone fractures, and more.

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When does calcium start to decline?

We don’t want to break bad news, but most of us reach our peak bone mass between the ages of 25 and 30. When we reach our 40s, we begin to slowly lose bone mass. In the grand scheme of things, that’s early! Therefore, it is essential to maintain an adequate intake of calcium-rich foods. But are there other factors that contribute to low calcium levels? Yeah.

  1. Aging. As we age, bone remodeling slows and bone density may gradually decrease. This can lead to conditions like osteopenia and osteoporosis, making older adults more susceptible to fractures and bone-related problems.
  2. Inadequate calcium intake. If you’re not eating enough calcium-rich foods, your body can compensate by pulling calcium from your bones to maintain proper blood calcium levels. Over time, this can contribute to decreased bone density.
  3. Menopause. During menopause, hormonal changes (specifically, a drop in estrogen levels) can accelerate bone loss. Estrogen helps protect bones by inhibiting bone breakdown, and its reduction during menopause can lead to increased bone turnover and calcium loss.
  4. vitamin D deficiency. Make sure you get enough vitamin D! It works together with calcium for optimal utilization. In other words, vitamin D deficiency can affect calcium absorption.
Image by Michelle Nash

Calcium and your period

If you’re a menstruating woman, listen up. Calcium and the herbal cycle are closely interconnected. Although calcium itself does not directly affect the start or length of periods, hormonal fluctuations during the menstrual cycle can have an impact on calcium levels in the body.

For example, during the follicular phase (before ovulation), estrogen levels rise, which can enhance calcium absorption. Conversely, during the luteal phase (after ovulation), progesterone levels rise, which can inhibit calcium absorption. Food to go? Increase your calcium intake in the second half of your cycle. Oh, and if you want to relieve PMS and menstrual cramps, make sure your calcium levels are optimal.

Image by Suruchi Avasthi

10 foods rich in calcium

Whether you’re trying to support your hormones, heal after a bone-related injury, or simply boost your calcium stores, welcome. And as mentioned, there’s no need to drink gallons of milk. Calcium is naturally present in many ingredients, including seeds, dark leafy greens, and shellfish. The following foods have the highest levels of calcium.

Kale. An 8-ounce serving contains 360 mg of calcium. Enjoy them cooked in ghee or coconut oil as a healthy side dish.

kale. An 8-ounce serving of fresh (or frozen) kale contains 180 mg of calcium. Add kale to your favorite smoothie or massage with extra virgin olive oil to make it smooth and palatable. Kale salads can be delicious, trust us.

soy. One cup of soybeans contains 175 mg of calcium. Mix them into your favorite stir-fry or eat them steamed with sea salt and sesame oil. Opt for non-GMO soy, when possible.

figs. Two figs, dried, contain 65 mg of calcium. They’re an on-the-go energizing snack for busy days.

Sardines—canned with bones. A 3-ounce serving contains 325 mg of calcium. A bountiful source of calcium, try sardines on toast or stir-fry them in your favorite pasta dish.

Ricotta. A 4-ounce serving of ricotta contains 335 mg of calcium. Ricotta is delicious in baked goods, or use it to bulk up a pan of lasagna.

Natural yogurt. A 6-ounce serving of plain yogurt contains 310 mg of calcium. Beyond a convenient breakfast, sub sour cream for yogurt in your favorite dressings, sauces, and muffins (it will keep them moist!).

Poppy seeds. One tablespoon (9 grams) of poppy seeds contains 126 mg of calcium. It’s Lemon Poppy Seed Season all.

White beans. One cup of navy beans contains approximately 180 mg of calcium. Try this Feta Salad with White Beans and Lime Salsa.

chia seeds. One ounce of chia seeds contains 179 mg of calcium. For an extra dose of calcium, fiber, and healthy fats, sprinkle them over bowls of Greek yogurt, use as a base for chia pudding, or add a teaspoon to your favorite smoothie.

Image by Suruchi Avasthi

Lifestyle habits to improve calcium density

Along with a balanced diet, certain lifestyle habits can also significantly improve the density of calcium. For example, regular physical activity works wonders, particularly weight-bearing exercises (jogging, lifting weights, etc.) because they stimulate bone formation. Additionally, exposure to sunlight is important because it aids in the production of vitamin D, which is essential for calcium absorption. When possible, get quality rest and avoid excessive alcohol consumption, smoking and a sedentary lifestyle.

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