Updated 2012-05-05 21:35:53 ID=664:0

© 2012 The Romantic Table
©2008 The Romantic Table, Susan McGourty's Table Talk, a California Central Coast Lifestyle blog. 2011-06-09 16:33:16:80
©2008 The Romantic Table

Susan McGourty's Table Talk

Living Well With Calcium


There's a lot of hype going around about calcium. The ads on TV constantly scream the importance of getting enough calcium in our aging bodies -and the best way to do that is with their specified product. Now most of us realize the importance that calcium has in keeping our bones and bodies healthy, and as a result allow us to continue an active lifestyle. But REALLY what IS the best way to absorb calcium and WHAT way is it the easiest most comfortable to do it? Supplements or foods directly? And can one get enough calcium absorbed each way?

For at least two decades, I've been taking calcium supplements in an almost "military allegiance," taking what my doctors recommend. But it hasn't been a pretty picture of what my body felt like dealing with the different forms of calcium supplements.

Years ago not many doctors were very enlightened about the different forms of calcium supplements and how they were metabolized by the body. Calcium Carbonate, for example, is so extremely harsh on the body and NOT at all well absorbed, most people switch to another form quickly. I know I sure did!

There's agreement now amongst most doctors that the best form of calcium is gotten directly from a healthy diet, and if you need to take supplements, Calcium Citrate is the best absorbed and tolerated.

But even Calcium Citrate can make you feel "bulky" inside -instead of lean-clean like a well-working machine. And just to "co-exist" with the darn Calcium Citrate, you have to take other pills to work decently. I recently got fed-up and so I did some research on my favorite diet, the Mediterranean Diet, and found that I already was getting enough calcium the easiest, healthiest and most enjoyable way -from my daily meals. I was really wasting my money and making my body feel out of whack by blindly adhering to the "calcium mantra." The "trick" to this though, is you have to be smart, you have to be serious about it and disciplined, in making healthy meal choices that WILL provide the needed vitamins and minerals.

You can do this by a variety of ways. Ideally you should try to get at least 1500 mg. of calcium a day from your food. Calcium is found in a cornucopia of whole foods! Dark leafy greens, broccoli, almonds, walnuts, yogurt, skim or low-fat milk, cheese and other dairy products, herbs and seafood. For instance, did you know that Parmesan cheese is the preferred cheese allowed by dietitians in hospitals! It not only is a low-fat cheese, but it also has the highest amount of calcium in it. We use this cheese regularly with our vegetable pastas, appetizers and soups. It's always a welcomed favorite and luckily, nowadays is pretty easy to find in the grocery stores. Stay away though from the "powdered canned Parmesan." That's junk! Use the Parmesan found in with the chilled cheeses. A nibble of this cheese always goes well with wine too.

Being calcium-wise fortunately it much easier to do nowadays! It all adds up! You can do as I did initially: I started to feel better just by cutting down on the amount of calcium supplements I took daily. Then as I felt better and was mindful of my calcium-count, I always had low-cal yogurt, low-fat cheeses, fresh and dried fruit such as figs, plums, prunes, raisins that are not only high in calcium but help maintain proper electrolytes on hand for a snack. And I almost ALWAYS have at least a four-cup serving of fresh spinach, arugula, or spring mix with a homemade vinaigrette to accompany my main course.

You can start out each morning with a bowl of Total cereal or other fortified cereal that has 1000 mg. of calcium in each serving! The importance of reading labels is a must if you want to keep tabs on your calcium intake and avoid having to take calcium supplements. I first started with the high-calcium cereal to reduce the load required by the number of calcium supplements.

Some examples of salad recipes that will help boost your calcium total are Baked Goat Cheese on Baby Spinach Leaves with a Fresh Lemon Vinaigrette , Arugula Salad with walnut-olive dressing, Caprese Salad with Heirloom Tomatoes, Greek Salad-A Spinach and Feta Salad.

Then there are calcium-rich entrees such as Broccoli Rabe (Rappini) with Italian Sausage and Mezze Penne Pasta , Carbonara Central Coast Style, Collard Greens with Italian Sausage and Pappardelle Pasta, Penne with Broccoli, Golden Raisins and Walnuts, Chicken Divan, Eggplant Parmesan, Lasagna Style,and Spinach with Nutmeg and Butter.

But you also must be vigilant about not wasting your intake of calcium by then drinking a lot of carbonated soft drinks which rob your bones of calcium with each swallow. Substitute home-brewed iced tea or water with a lemon or lime. These also help cleanse the body as you drink. Though once in awhile a swig or two of a soft drink won't kill you!

Since I've had my "little calcium-supplement revolt" I feel like a different woman! My energy-level is higher, I physically look and feel better and I don't have to take as many of the darn supplements. However to insure your absorption of calcium no matter WHAT form of calcium you ingest, almost all scientists and doctors agree that a Vitamin D3 supplement -at least 2000 I.U. is essential to calcium's absorption and also helps ward-off colds and flu -it and helps prevent the "winter blahs" as well!

Of course everybody's situation is different. If you're working with a doctor, don't be shy to ask their advice about the different ways to get calcium without taking supplements. Many doctors are now savvy about calcium and the diet and may have some good suggestions.






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A tip from Sue!

Mark perishable ingredients

When ever you bring home a brand new spice, oil, vinegar, flour, sugar or other perishable ingredient, mark the bottle/container with the day’s date with a felt tip pen. Most "permanent markers" will write on just about any container.

That way if you don’t use it very much, but it’s been opened, you know how fresh it is. For an important meal don’t “submarine yourself” by using past expiration ingredients that have long lost their fresh taste and flavor.