Eating well is important for any runner, whether you’re running for fun or training for your 11th marathon. Healthy sources of carbohydrates, protein, and fats should make the core of a well-balanced runner’s diet.
But what about calcium? Are you having enough of it?
The fact is, calcium is one of the most abundant minerals in the body. Your body may contain as much as two pounds of it, with 99 percent stored in the skeletal structure of bones and teeth.
In today’s post, we will dig deep into the role of calcium as well as share a list of some of the calcium-rich foods to consume to get the nutrient. Is it really worth it? Let’s roll…
Why Runners Need Calcium
Running is a fantastic weight-bearing exercise that strengthens the bones like nothing else. But there’s a little caveat—it does so only when you supply your bones with enough calcium—otherwise, the miles will take a toll on your bones.
In fact, if you’re dealing with a calcium deficiency, running can actually weaken your bones, making them more prone to cracks, fractures, breaks, and other injuries.
Of course, not all bone injuries, such as stress fracture, stem from a lack of calcium, but getting enough of the nutrient is one step in the right direction. Runners are, after all, all about taking the right steps.
Here are some of its main roles you might have never heard before:
- Aiding in proper muscle function,
- Improving cardiovascular function,
- Regulating nerve signaling,
- Lowering blood pressure,
- Keeping healthy blood vessels,
- Preventing insulin resistance.
I can go on and on about the importance of calcium for runners (and humans), but by now you should get the big picture.
How Much Calcium Do You Need?
As a general rule, shoot for 1,000 to 1,200 mg of calcium per day if you’re under 50, and 1,300 mg for those older than 50, according to National Academics of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. A 1,000 mg is of calcium is roughly the equivalent of one glass skim milk, one cup of plain yogurt, or one thick slice of cheddar cheese.
And more importantly, get your calcium from food sources instead of supplements. Your body responds and benefit better with natural products instead of pharmacy made.
Calcium-Rich Foods For Runners
Calcium naturally occurs in a lot of foods and beverages and is added to many others. Add the following items to your eating menu to get enough calcium.
Milk is one of the highest concentrated sources of calcium.
One cup of cow’s milk has roughly 270 to 350 mg of the nutrient. This equals 25 to 30 percent of the recommended daily intake.
One cup of the stuff also has 50 mg of magnesium and 500 mg of potassium. These are important for:
- Proper hydration,
- Improving bone density,
- Improving muscle function,
- Regulating metabolism, and
- Boosting blood circulation.
Looking for a plant-based source of calcium? Look no further than kale. One cup of raw, chopped of kale has roughly 100 mg or 10 percent of the RDA.
Kale’s calcium is also more bioavailable than milk calcium.
That’s not the whole story. While packing no more than 30 calories per serving, kale provides twice daily recommended allowance of vitamin A, and plenty of vitamin C, and vitamin K.
It’s also a good source of protein, dietary fiber, iron, folate, thiamin, phosphorus, magnesium, and manganese.
Try this recipe.
If you like seafood, you’ll like this one. Seven sardine fillets—about a 3.75-ounce can – contain roughly 320 mg of calcium or 30 percent of daily recommended allowance. That’s a lot.
The salty little fish also is a fantastic source of vitamin B12, an important nutrient for the nervous system and brain health. It also contains a good dose of vitamin D and omega 3’s oils.
Try this recipe.
One cup of plain yogurt packs in roughly 320 mg of calcium—that equals 30 percent of the RDI.
Some types of yogurt contain live probiotic bacteria, which help soothe constipation, prevent diarrhea, and enhance digestion. Yogurt is also a fantastic source of vitamin B-12, potassium, phosphorous, and protein.
This mineral-rich green leafy vegetable is one of the not-so-popular cruciferous plants in the world. One cup—34g– of the aquatic plant contains 41 mg of calcium.
Watercress has more iron than spinach and as much as vitamin C as oranges per serving. This veggie also packs in folate, protein, copper, pantothenic acid, vitamin A, and potassium.
For leafy greens, nothing tastes better than a nice watercress salad. You can also add it as a side dish to your main meal.
Try this recipe.
With one cup packing 44 mg of calcium, this leafy green veggie can stand its ground when it comes to its calcium punch.
This cruciferous veggie is a fantastic source of vitamin C—in fact, it packs twice the vitamin C of an orange.
Plus, broccoli contains a lot of riboflavin, thiamin, iron, magnesium, selenium, phosphorus, and dietary fiber. But, don’t cook it too long, since it will release the good stuff quicker.
Cheese, in virtually all its varieties, is an excellent source of calcium. For instance, parmesan cheese packs in about 330 mg per ounce serving. That’s the equivalent of 33 percent of the daily recommended intake.
Other cheese varieties with the highest amounts of calcium include Romano and Swiss cheese.
Cheese is also an excellent source of vitamin A and vitamin B12—essential nutrients for immune function and energy levels.
Cheese a good source of protein—this can help you feel full for longer, preventing hunger pangs and improving recovery. Research has also linked cheese consumption to a lowered risk of heart disease and metabolic syndrome.
Do you love munching on nuts? Then you should be eating plenty of almonds. Other than good taste, one ounce— about 23 whole almonds —packs in 75 mg of calcium or 8 percent of the RDI. When oil-roasted, the calcium content jumps to 450 mg. That’s a lot! You can add it to your salad or simply add Himalayan salt and ready to go!
Almonds contain three grams of fiber per ounce, as well as healthy protein, packing about 10% of your daily requirement of protein.
Although almonds are rich in fats, they contain the healthy kind of fat that helps reduce bad cholesterol levels while providing a plethora of health-improving benefits.