Men need calcium, too. The mineral not only keeps bones and teeth strong but helps blood vessels dilate and contract, muscles function, nerves transmit vital signals, and glands secrete essential hormones. Getting enough calcium in your diet is an important factor in preventing high blood pressure, and it’s a key element in the blood-pressure-lowering diet.
But here’s one thing that men don’t need: calcium supplements, unless they are specifically recommended by a doctor. Why? Calcium supplements may raise a man’s risk of heart disease and heart attack, according to emerging research. One large recent study found that men who took supplements of more than 1,000 mg/day of calcium had a 20 percent higher risk of death due to cardiovascular problems than men who didn’t take calcium supplements. There was no effect in women, and none from calcium from food.
Too high levels of blood calcium may also make you constipated, give you kidney stones, and cause your arteries to harden and narrow. There is also some concern that too much calcium may increase prostate cancer risk, but this is early research and not well understood.
So how can you get just the right amount of calcium? Skip pills and eat right. Here’s how:
Think beyond dairy
Dairy products (yogurt, cheese, milk) are great sources of calcium, but many different foods have small amounts of calcium that all add up. “Grains, some vegetables, canned salmon and sardines, mushrooms as well as fortified soymilk, almond milk, and cereals are all good sources of calcium,” says Vandana Sheth, RD, CDE, spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. “Nuts and seeds are good sources, too. One ounce of sesame seeds gives you about 280 mg. of calcium, for example.”
Up your vitamin D
It helps your body absorb the calcium you consume. Many calcium-containing dairy products are fortified with D; starting your day with a bowl of cereal and low-fat milk, for example, gives you both D and calcium. Your body makes vitamin D from sunshine, so just sitting outside on a sunny day and eating a cup of yogurt gives you both nutrients, too. Just put sunscreen on after 15 minutes in the sun.
Consuming too much sodium can cause your body to excrete more calcium in your urine. Eating fresh foods and limiting processed and fast foods is the best way to cut back on sodium.
How can water help your body get calcium? There’s no calcium in water. But if you drink water instead of soda pop, and go easy on alcoholic and caffeinated beverages, you’ll be doing your body good. Each of these beverages reduces your body’s absorption of calcium, and causes your body to excrete extra calcium.
Eat more fruits and vegetables
Not only do they supply small amounts of calcium, but they may reduce calcium excretion by causing your body to be slightly more alkaline, according to one hypothesis. Getting plenty of fruits and vegetables, along with enough protein, helps protect your bones.
“Calcium is an important mineral, but as with all nutrients, the key is to get it in the right proportion,” says Sheth. “By eating a variety of nutritious foods, you can meet your calcium needs and you’ll enjoy the process a lot more than just popping a pill.”
Related Link: The Top 5 Superfoods For Men
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