Crank Up the Calcium! (without Milk)
Your body needs Calcium at every stage in life. Calcium works together with vitamin D, magnesium, vitamin A, protein and fluoride to build and maintain strong bones and teeth. Calcium also keeps your muscles working properly, and may play an important role in preventing high blood pressure and some forms of cancer. Calcium is especially important during growing years and for women after menopause. The recommended calcium intake for an adult is 1000-1200 mg.
When we think of getting our calcium needs, we often think of a tall glass of milk. Now that you are living with the Slimband you have probably heard about avoiding liquid calories. Why? Liquids do not stay in the upper stomach pouch (stomach portion above your band) and do not satisfy your hunger for very long. Yogurt is slightly better, but it is what we call a "slider" food. Because it is soft, it still slips past the band easily.
Cheese also provides calcium, but is notoriously high in calories and saturated fat, so should be used in moderation when trying to lose weight. Both yogurt and cheese are fine as occasional snack proteins when paired together with fibrous fruits or vegetables. Even 4 ounces of reduced fat milk once in a while can be incorporated into your weight loss plan, but this may not be enough to meet your daily needs and ward off bone loss.
How can I ensure I'm getting my calcium needs met now that I'm banded?
There are several other non-dairy food sources that provide bio-available calcium; you just need to know where to look for them. This important nutrient is found in low-oxalate greens (more on what these are in a minute), firm tofu, canned fish, unshelled sesame seeds, almonds and beans.
Including 2 items from this list daily will help you meet your calcium requirements. All of these calcium rich foods are healthy, solid, whole food options that will provide greater satisfaction, while keeping bones strong:
- Fish, canned salmon, mackerel, or sardines (with soft bones)
- Raw oysters
- Tofu, firm or regular
- Cooked turnip greens, bok choy, collards, kale, or mustard greens
- Dandelion greens (great to add to salads!)
- Beans (navy, kidney, garbanzo, black, soy, pinto)
- Almonds, hazelnuts and walnuts
- Sesame seeds (unhulled), sunflower seeds
Slimband Suggests: More Tips for Increasing Calcium and keeping bones healthy!
- Look at labels: When shopping, read food labels and select foods that contain 10 per cent or more of the Daily Value for calcium. Foods high in calcium or fortified with calcium may be labelled as 'calcium-rich' or 'excellent source of calcium.'
- Include weight-bearing exercises like walking, running, or weight training daily. The pushing and pulling of muscles where gravity is involved helps promote the deposit of calcium right to your bones. Set a goal to reach the recommended 150 minutes of moderate to intense physical activity every week.
- Avoid excessive intake of salt or caffeine. Evidence suggests that high levels will lower the absorption of calcium in the body and increase losses through urine.
- Ask your physician if you need a bone density test based on your risk factors for osteoporosis or if you are a woman over 50.
- Avoid smoking and excessive alcohol intake.
- Choose a calcium supplement (as required) that contains vitamin D, which will aid in the calcium's absorption.
Should I take Calcium Supplements?
- Focus on food first; with a little effort most people are able to get enough calcium from their diet. Registered dietitians recommend food as the primary source for your vitamins, and minerals like calcium. If you think you need a calcium supplement check with your physician about the amount and type of supplement that is best for you. It is important even when you are taking a calcium supplement to continue to eat foods containing calcium as research indicates that calcium from foods is more effective in building healthy bones than calcium from supplements.
- If you exclude certain calcium rich food groups on a daily basis, a calcium supplement should be considered.
- Contact your Slimband Dietitian for a nutritional assessment if you are unsure if a calcium supplement is for you!