Calcium-rich foods can dramatically improve your dental health. By helping to preserve sufficient levels of calcium in the body the function and structure of the bones and teeth are supported. Calcium strengthens tooth enamel. It is key in the fight against decay and cavities that can lead to tooth extraction if the decay is not dealt with and allowed to progress.
Calcium is the most plentiful mineral found in the human body, but if there is a shortage the teeth and bones will suffer. Therefore, it is crucial to replace lost calcium. The National Institutes of Health recommends adults between the ages of 19 and 50 should take 1,000 milligrams (mg) of calcium per day. However, for some groups such as children, teenagers, and older women, the amounts of calcium required may be higher.
Although most people associate milk and dairy foods with being high in calcium (which they are), there is a range of other food groups that are also high in calcium. Potentially, this offers a range of different options for increasing your daily calcium intake, as well as providing an alternative to dairy for vegans and individuals following plant-based diets. Take a look at the variety of these 9 calcium-rich foods that will improve not only your dental health, but your overall health too.
One of the best food sources of calcium, a portion of cheese can help you well on your way to meeting your recommended daily intake (RDI). While all cheeses contain calcium, some hold more than others with hard cheeses providing more calcium than soft cheeses. Thus, parmesan delivers the highest at over 300 mg per ounce, or around 33% of your RDI, whilst brie only contains around 52 mg or 5% of your RDI.
Yogurt is another good source of calcium with one cup of plain yogurt contributing to around 30% of the RDI. Another benefit of eating yogurt is that it decreases the number of harmful bacteria that are found in dental plaque—so it has two benefits to dental health.
Sardines and other canned fish, including salmon, are packed with calcium because of their edible bones. A can of sardines can deliver 35% of your RDI, while salmon contains around 20%.
Oily fish are high in omega-3 fatty acids that are good for brain, heart, and skin health. Omega-3 helps to improve heart disease, fight depression and reduce inflammation, which is a key component of gum disease, heart disease, and cancer.
Beans, lentils, and chickpeas are another option for getting your calcium fix. Beans contribute up to 13% of your RDI, while lentils are around 5%. An excellent source of dietary fiber, beans are rich in other important vitamins and minerals and help to maintain a healthy gut, improve cholesterol levels and reduce blood sugar.
Tofu is derived from soya and can be an exceptionally rich source of calcium. It contains over 80% of your RDI in just half a cup and is high in protein, fiber, and micronutrients. It is a healthy meal option that’s great for the skin, reduces bad cholesterol, and can even reduce menopausal hot flashes.
Most nuts pack a calcium punch, but almonds are among the highest. An ounce serving (around 20 nuts) is equivalent to 8% of your RDI. Nuts are great for a quick snack and are an excellent source of fiber, magnesium, and vitamin E.
Almonds lower bad cholesterol and can help to keep your heart healthy.
You can supplement your calcium levels with just a tablespoon of seeds sprinkled over a dessert or stirred into a recipe providing 9% of your RDI. Poppy seeds are the most calcium-rich, but celery, chia, and sesame seeds are also a good source.
Seeds are also a good source of fiber and contain essential minerals, vitamins, and antioxidants. As part of a healthy diet, they can reduce blood pressure, cholesterol, and blood sugar.
Rhubarb contains a high amount of calcium, but it also contained oxalates, which prevents calcium from being absorbed by the body. Thus, only a quarter of the calcium in rhubarb is absorbed. However, this still means that you can get around 9% of your calcium RDI from one cup of rhubarb.
Rhubarb is also beneficial for your gut as it contains prebiotic fiber that can promote healthy bacteria. It is also high in other vitamins and minerals, including vitamin K, which is important for wound healing and blood clotting.
Dried figs are packed with calcium and contain more than any other dried fruit with one ounce providing 5% of the RDI. They are rich in vitamins and minerals which are beneficial for bone health and antioxidants to promote healthy skin and hair. Antioxidants may also protect against neural degeneration and plaque formation.
While these foods are all high in calcium and can dramatically improve your dental health, they can also play a role in many of your body’s other functions. Calcium is needed to release hormones, circulate blood, move muscles, and carry messages from the brain to other parts of the body. Your body doesn’t make its own calcium, so you have to rely on your diet to provide your body with enough to sustain it. Enjoy eating these delicious, nutritious foods to keep your calcium levels high enough so that it doesn’t need to use the calcium stored in your bones and teeth.