Friday, 27 January 2012

Nutritional Info – Calcium


I was spoilt yesterday with an Australia Day vegan BBQ, courtesy of L-whack. I arrived to find a plate of garlic focaccia & hummus, a bowl of BBQ shapes, a couple of stubbies of Bundaberg ginger beer (c’mon, it’s Australia – gotta bogan it up a little!!) waiting for me. Ready for the cooking was some sliced potatoes, onions and some vegan burgers.

YUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUM!

Om nom nom
Needless to say, we didn’t need much dinner!

Sliced potatoes - add olive oil, mixed herbs & salt - drooooooooool!
Calcium

Calcium is required for the normal development and maintenance of the skeleton as well as for the proper functioning of neuromuscular and cardiac function. It is stored in the teeth and bones where it provides structure and strength.[1]

Today I am writing about calcium. It is something close to my heart – my father used to scare the beejezus out of me when I was younger, stating that I would grow up and develop osteoporosis. When I was a baby, I was diagnosed as lactose intolerant so grew up not eating much dairy. I was able to eat small amounts of yoghurt (something to do with the acidophilus reversing the effects of the lactose?), ice cream (it’s mainly sugar!) and when I was older I would have milk in coffees (although every few weeks, it would all build up and I would spend a day or 2 feeling very unwell). But I never ate cheese (unless cheezels count?!!), nor cream (unless it was brandy cream on Christmas pudding!). I once had a Greek salad, but picked out all the chucks of feta. However the small crumbles of feta left behind meant I spent the next 36 hours curled up in a ball on the bathroom floor – not fun.

Anyway, we all know the importance of calcium so that we avoid osteoporosis and other health issues later in life – and thankfully, there are many more sources of calcium than just dairy.

Both males & females should 1000mg of calcium every day. Pregnant ladies, elderly people and children need different amounts. A good guide to calcium recommendations is found here.


Serving size
(mg) per serving
% Daily Value
Tofu*, firm, made with calcium sulphate
 ½ cup
204
20
Tofu*, soft, made with calcium sulphate
 ½ cup
138
14
Spinach, cooked
 ½ cup
120
12
Kale, cooked
1 cup
94
9
Kale, raw
1 cup
90
9
Chinese cabbage, raw
1 cup
74
7
Orange juice, calcium-fortified
177ml
378
37
Bread, whole-wheat
1 slice
30
3
Garbanzo Beans, cooked
1 cup
80
8
Legumes, general, cooked
 ½ cup
15 to 50
-
Pinto Beans, cooked
1 cup
75
7.5
Soybeans, boiled
 ½ cup
100
10
Tempeh
 ½ cup
75
7.5
White Beans, cooked
 ½ cup
70
7
Tortillas, corn
2
85
8.5
Brown rice, long grain, raw
1 cup
50
5
Almonds, toasted unblanched
28g
80
8
Sesame seeds, whole roasted
28g
280
28
Sesame tahini
28g (2 Tbsp)
130
13
Sunflower seeds, dried
28g
50
5
Molasses, blackstrap
1 Tbsp
135
13.5
Soy or rice beverage, fortified with calcium
250 mL (1 cup)
319
31.9
Yogurt, soy
175 g (¾ cup)
206
20.6
Fortified cereal bars (per bar)
per bar
180
18
2 spears of broccoli
90g
30
3
7 dried apricots
56g
40
4
Figs (approx. 4)
220g
506
50.6
Orange, peeled
160g
75
7.5
Watercress, small bunch (raw)
20g
34
3.4
Curly Kale
95g
143
14.3
Okra, stir fried
40g (approx 8 pieces)
88
8.8
Red kidney beans, canned
105g (3 tbsp.)
75
7.5
Chick peas, boiled
90g (3 tbsp.)
41
4.1
Green/French beans
90g
50
5
Baked beans
135g
72
7.2
Brazil Nuts (6 whole)
20g
34
3.4
Hazelnuts (20 whole)
20g
28
2.8
Walnuts (12 halves)
40g
38
3.8
Pasta (white), cooked
230g
85
8.5
* The calcium content of tofu depends on how the tofu has been processed. If it is processed using calcium chloride or calcium sulphate, tofu may have up to 100mg calcium per 100g block. Otherwise the calcium content of tofu is negligible.

HOWEVER, we should also be aware that there are several factors that can affect the amount of calcium our bodies absorb. WHAT you eat, WHEN you eat, and the natural make-up of your body can mean your body doesn’t necessarily absorb all the calcium you consume. Sodium, caffeine & protein in food affects how much calcium we absorb. Also the amount we sweat, and how much we wee can also affect absorption. It’s all very complex and confusing, and I am certainly no scientist or doctor. If you feel like an interesting read, I recommend the Nutrient Reference Values for
Australia and New Zealand - but being 315 pages, it’s a lot of information to take in! A lot of those pages are references etc, so I guess it’s not THAT scary!! It’s an Australian Government document, so I like to think it holds reliable information.

My personal choice is to eat as much natural calcium as I can, but to also take a supplement. I’m making my way through a bottle of Caltrate at the moment, but the vegan multivitamins that I bought last week also contain calcium.

The combination of calcium, vitamin D and exercise also assists the health of our bones. We all know we should ‘slip, slop, slap’ but the sun is a natural source of vitamin D and we should all get outside for 10 minutes each day and soak up some rays.

So the moral of the calcium story is
·         Eat as much calcium-rich foods as possible – daily;
·         Take part in regular exercise, and;
·         Combine your calcium intake with vitamin D (as naturally as possible)


[1] http://www.nhmrc.gov.au/_files_nhmrc/publications/attachments/n35.pdf

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