Weekly Wellness: The mystery of the missing nutrients (part 3)
COLUMBIA - This week's mystery nnutient is the most abundant mineral in the body. It is required for vascular contraction, muscle function, nerve transmission, intracellular signaling and hormonal secretion. These critical metabolic functions are supported by less than 1 percent of what the body needs of this nutrient. The other 99 percent is stored in the bones and teeth to support their structure and function.
Did you know that your bones are continually remodeling with deposit and resoprtion of this nutrient? And the balance of this process changes with age. Bone formation exceeds resorption in periods of growth in children and adolescents, whereas in early and middle adulthood both processes are relatively equal. In aging adults, particularly among postmenopausal women, bone breakdown exceeds formation, resulting in bone loss that increases the risk of osteoporosis. Did you also know that men are prone to osteoporosis as well as women?
This week's mystery missing nutrient is calcium.
Why we need it: Calcium is an important nutrient that helps maintain healthy bones, assists in nerve transmission, and helps our blood clot. Our bodies need a lot of calcium to properly function (it's the most abundant material in the body), but our body also doesn't naturally produce the element, meaning we need to get all we need from our food (and supplements). Not getting enough calcium can lead to an increased risk of osteoporosis and bone fractures.
How much we need: Adults need to consume 1,000 mg per day (that's for adult men and women). Young adults and adults over 51 require a higher dose of calcium (1,200-1,300 mg).
How to get it: One cup collard greens (357 mg), 1/4 cup diced Swiss cheese (261 mg), one cup 2% nonfat milk (293 mg)
Top ten foods highest in calcium:
- Dark leafy greens (watercress)
- Low fat cheese (Mozzarella nonfat)
- Low fat milk and yogurt
- Chinese cabbage (Pak Choi, Bok Choy)
- Fortified soy products (tofu)
- Okra (cooked)
- Green snap beans
- Fish canned (sardines, in oil, with bones)