Calcium 101: what is it, where do we get it, and why do our teeth need it?
Calcium is something that’s often associated with strong, healthy teeth - but how much do you know about it? Our team from the Edinburgh dentist, New Town Dental Care, are here to tell you everything you need to know about calcium and how to ensure you’re getting plenty of it in order to keep your teeth in great condition.
What is calcium?
Calcium is a naturally-occurring chemical element that is essential for living organisms, including humans. It’s the most abundant mineral in the human body, and can also be found in lots of plants and foods. Calcium is vital for good health - it’s not only essential for keeping teeth and bones strong, it also affects our muscles, blood and other parts of the body.
Where can calcium be found?
Lots of different kinds of foods contain naturally-occurring calcium - it’s not only found in milk! Of course, dairy products like milk, cheese and yogurt are high in calcium, but there are plenty of other calcium-rich food sources.
Leafy green vegetables are also high in calcium - things like spinach, kale and collard greens. Calcium can also be found in nuts and seeds like pistachios, almonds, hazelnuts and sesame seeds. Other sources include beans, figs, seaweed, broccoli and tofu.
Some food and drinks - like breakfast cereals, soy milk and fruit juices - may also be fortified with calcium, and calcium supplements are also available if your natural diet is lacking in the mineral.
Why do our teeth need calcium?
Teeth need calcium to stay strong and healthy. Around 99% of the calcium in the human body is found in the bones and teeth, so it’s really important for development, growth and maintenance of these parts of the body.
It’s vital to consume plenty of calcium throughout your life to keep teeth and bones strong. Bone density starts to decline around the age of 25, and continuing to consume calcium can help maintain teeth and bones and slow down this natural ageing process. People who do not consume enough calcium before this age have a much higher risk of developing brittle bone disease or osteoporosis later in life, because calcium is drawn then from the bones as a reserve.
How much calcium do I need?
The amount of calcium you need to consume varies slightly depending on your age, gender and other factors. As a rule, most children and teenagers should aim for around 1,300 mg per day, and most adults around 1,000 mg per day.
One glass of milk contains around 300 mg of calcium, so you’d need to drink three or four glasses per day to get the recommended amount of calcium. Don’t like milk? No problem! A serving of kale contains approximately 100 mg, a cup of almonds around 370 mg and a pot of yogurt approximately 200mg of calcium. With a balanced diet, it should be easy to get your calcium from a variety of sources.
Still not getting enough calcium from your diet? Take a calcium supplement to ensure you reach the recommended 1,000 mg per day.
Need some more advice on how to keep your teeth strong and healthy? Don’t hesitate to give the New Town Dental Care team a call on 0131 556 2776 if you’re looking for an Edinburgh dentist!