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How to add more calcium to every meal

We’re a society sorely in need of calcium. Based on several studies, researchers have found that some 86 per cent of teenage girls and 64 per cent of teenage boys are “calcium deficient.”

Easy ways to up your calcium consumption
Calcium-rich mac and cheese

Teenagers’ intake of calcium is nowhere near the amount they need to stave off such serious health conditions as osteoporosis or to maintain proper bodily functions like muscle movement and insulin regulation. The good news is that upping one’s intake of this important nutrient is as simple as following the four steps below.

Plan your meals

The easiest way to ensure you’re getting enough of this body-strengthening nutrient is to plan your meals around it. Make every attempt to eat calcium-rich foods whenever you sit down to satiate hunger. Some of the richest mealtime sources include yogourt, orange juice (calicum-fortified), Canadian mozzarella cheese and sardines.

Snack smartly

A great way to up your intake of calcium is to snack on foods that give you the most calcium bang for your foodie buck. Midday, snack on a cup of unsalted almonds; it’s one nut that’s packed with calcium. You can also pair a few cubes of Canadian cheddar cheese with an apple; not only will this fill you up (thanks to the fibre in the fruit), but you’ll also healthily meet your daily calcium targets (which is roughly 1,300 milligrams).

Skip caffeine at mealtime

Caffeine leaches calcium stores in your body. Studies show that for every 150 milligrams of caffeine ingested (equivalent to the caffeine found in one cup of coffee), your body will lose almost 5 milligrams of calcium. That doesn’t seem like much, but over time it will add up. So cut back on how much caffeine you consume, and avoid drinking certain stimulating beverages when you’re eating a bone-strengthening meal (this will inhibit absorption of the nutrient in the intestinal tract).

Reach for seeds, and fortify your dressings

Digging in to a salad on a daily basis is a surefire way to meet all your RDAs of vitamins and minerals. To ensure a meal is balanced, add a few calcium-rich foods, like leafy greens (kale or spinach), cabbage, broccoli or tofu. You can even top a salad with salmon. If you’re a vegetarian, reach for items like sesame seeds; they’re rich in this bone-building nutrient. When choosing a salad dressing, opt for those made from fat-free yogourt (one of the richest sources of calcium out there). Or if you’re a cheese lover, sprinkle some Canadian cheese on top of your favourite veggies.

More on calcium

Why calcium is so important for women
5 calcium-rich recipes for strong bones
The benefits of drinking milk

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