Calcium is a key ingredient to oral care. It is the main mineral responsible for the strong structure of your teeth and the jaw bones they are attached to. Children need 500-800mg of calcium daily, while adults need 1000-1300mg, respectively. (Source: orthopedics.about.com)
For years, drinking milk has been touted as the best way to maximize teeth health, due to its calcium content. It’s a great concept, as most milk also contains vitamin D, which helps absorb calcium into the body. However, milk isn’t the only food that contains calcium or that couples vitamin D with it.
Below are a few suggestions for getting more calcium to your teeth where it’s needed.
Eat a Treat
As much as milk is favored as a calcium carrier, sugar is a teeth destroyer. Perhaps this is why people tend to write yogurt off as a high-calcium option. However, there are a lot of options among both creamy and frozen yogurt treats that have decent levels of calcium without decay inducing levels of sugar.
Greek and plain yogurt can also be added in place of mayonnaise in pasta, grain, and potato salads. You can smear yogurt onto breads, dip fruit into it for a quick snack, or use it in casserole sauces or toppings. Frozen yogurt sits at around 150mg of calcium while Greek yogurt hovers around 110mg per serving. (Source: www.dietandfitnesstoday.com)
Incorporating yogurt into a snack or meal 2-3 times per day can greatly increase your body’s calcium content.
Gobble Some Cooked Greens
Kale, broccoli, bok choy, lettuce, and other leafy greens are awesome sources of calcium. The Pauling Institute reports that having 1 cup of steamed kale provides nearly 100mg of calcium, and bok choy contains about 75mg. Likewise, a ½ cup serving of sautéed spinach offers about 115mg of calcium, while the same amount of rhubarb has 175mg and broccoli has 20mg. (Source: lpi.oregonstate.edu/)
Greens can go into soups and salads, breads, smoothies, or eaten as the perfect light summer side. One of my favorite ways to make dumplings is to place steamed spinach and shredded cheese in the dough, and then drop it into marinara sauce to cook.
Unfortunately, compounds found in most greens, called oxalates, prevent the body from soaking up calcium. Spinach, chard, and beet greens contain the most oxalates of all greens. Mashing or cooking greens breaks down and releases the oxalates, making their calcium more available to the body during digestion. Adding calcium carbonate powder to the cooking water of your greens can release more of the oxalic acid. You can find it at your local health food store, or at some online retailers. (Source: ehow.com)
Cheese It Up
Cheese is also high in calcium and is one of my favorite ways to get it. There are so many different types of cheese with unique flavors and textures. It’s also incredibly versatile. Sliced in a sandwich, atop a cracker, and sprinkled on casseroles is just the tip of the iceberg for how to work more cheese into your eating habits. You can stuff meats, shred on or in salads, melt into rice dishes, baked into breads and biscuits, or toast into cheese crisps. Add some more onto pizzas or garlic breads. More commonly purchased cheeses such as cheddar and mozzarella contain around 400mg calcium per quarter cup, while fancier cheeses such as Gruyere contain closer to 520mg. Even everyone’s favorite blue box, macaroni and cheese, offers 240mg of calcium between the fortified noodles and additions you use to create the sauce. (Source: www.osteoporosisadvice.com)
Soak up the Sun
As mentioned above, vitamin D should accompany your calcium intake. Without it, absorption is nearly impossible. Just 15 minutes a day in the sunlight can help your body build vitamin D levels naturally. Especially make an effort to get some sun in the wintertime, when people tend to get less vitamin D. Sit in front of a window as you read a book, watch television, or drink that glass of milk. You could also do your exercise outdoors on warmer days, allowing your face and arms to gather calcium’s helper.
No matter how you choose to supplement your diet with calcium rich foods, your teeth and jaw depend on you to do it. Implement some of the above suggestions, and you greatly improve and maintain the health of your teeth.