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How Much Calcium Can We Absorb from Different Foods?

When removing a food group from our diet, we sometimes cannot calculate what we should include instead. For example, think that your breakfast consists of cheese, olives, tomatoes, cucumbers and eggs (typical Turkish breakfast). One day you realize that you are intolerant to dairy. When you only take out the cheese and continue with the rest, you are saved from a food that is harming you, but on the other hand, there is a possibility that some of the nutrients you get with that food will diminish. Therefore, when removing a food group, it is necessary to take a look at which micronutrients come with it. In this article, I will share how much calcium we can get from which alternative calcium sources, especially for those who exclude dairy products from their diet for various reasons.

Normally, you can easily find information about the calcium content of food. However, to find out how much calcium you actually get from a food, we need to take into account how much of the calcium in that food can be absorbed by the body. For example, the absorbable part of 300mg calcium contained in a glass of milk is 32%. This means that we get 96mg of calcium from 1 glass of milk (240g). The same amount of calcium-rich spinach (240g) contains 322mg of calcium, more than 1 glass of milk; However, since only 5% of it can be absorbed, we only get 16mg of it. That’s why I prepared the list below so that we can make our calculation according to this absorbable calcium. Don’t worry, spinach is a bit of an extreme example… You can see that many vegetables on the list have a lot of absorbable calcium.

Of course, before we can use the list, we need to know how much calcium we need. You can find the recommended daily intake of calcium according to age in the table below (1).

Age Male Female
0–6 months* 200 mg 200 mg
7–12 months* 260 mg 260 mg
1–3 years 700 mg 700 mg
4–8 years 1,000 mg 1,000 mg
9–13 years 1,300 mg 1,300 mg
14–18 years 1,300 mg 1,300 mg
19–50 years 1,000 mg 1,000 mg
51–70 years 1,000 mg 1,200 mg
71+ years 1,200 mg 1,200 mg

* adequate intake (this warning in the original source may mean that the ideal intake for these age groups may be higher.)

In this table, the recommended daily intake of 1000mg for an adult, actually refers to dietary calcium, not the absorbable amount. How do we understand this? It is recommended that we consume 3-4 portions of dairy products to meet our daily calcium needs. If all 1000mg were to be absorbed daily, it would be recommended to consume 10 portions of dairy products since we would get 96mg absorbable calcium from 1 serving of dairy products. Based on this, we can say that the recommended amount of calcium to be absorbed daily is 300-400mg (5).

Let’s also briefly mention that there are different opinions about whether this is the amount of calcium we really need. Different factors such as physical activity, estrogen hormone and vitamin D level can also change the amount of calcium we need. Asian and African societies with fewer bone fractures with less calcium intake, raise questions about the recommended amounts of calcium. Of course, there are so many variables in diet and lifestyle that it is difficult to explain this difference with calcium intake alone.

After this detail, we can move on to the table showing the absorbable calcium amounts in foods. Hope this helps you to regulate your diet …

 

 

FOOD PORTION SIZE CALCIUM ABSORBED
Bone (eg. softened bones in chicken bone broth) 3 g 270mg
Collard greens 1 cup cooked( 190g) 173mg
Turnip greens 1 cup cooked( 190g) 102mg
Feta Cheese 30g 96.3mg
Yoghurt 240g 96.3mg
Milk 1 bardak 96.3mg
Sardines (with bones) 106g 95mg
Canned Salmon (with bones) 106g 71mg
Chinese cabbage 1 cup cooked( 170g) 69-85mg
Broccoli 1 cup cooked( 156g) 57mg
Kale 1 cup cooked( 125g) 46mg
Mineral water

(San Pellegrino, one of the highest Ca containing)

500ml 41-45mg
Mustard Greens 1 cup cooked( 190g) 42mg
White Beans 110g 24.7mg
Rutabaga 85g 22mg
Almond 28g 17mg
Red Beans 110g 15.3mg
Spinach 1 cup cooked( 180g) 12mg
Radish 50g 10.4mg
Sesame (hulled) 28g 7.7mg
Sweet potato 164g 9.8mg

Is Tooth (Tartar) Cleaning Harmful?

“They say it is harmful to have dental tartar removed” is probably one of the most frequently heard words by dentists. It is not right to process the teeth while standing still, yes. However, once the deposits on the teeth are petrified with minerals in the saliva, it is not possible to remove them with a brush. Sometimes patients say that it breaks spontaneously, but in this case, of course, there is no clean surface left behind.

What’s inside these stones? Minerals, protein-polysaccharide complexes, epithelial cells, leukocytes and microorganisms… Pay attention to the content… Of course, an inflammatory response develops in the gingiva directly adjacent to this structure. Tissue damage occurs due to both the direct activity of microorganisms and the destructive enzymes that result from the inflammatory response (1). It is possible to see this damage directly with the eyes. Below is the image of the gingiva that comes out just below when the tartar is removed. This is the picture seen only when the stone is removed without touching the gums.

 

Gingivitis can have serious consequences, including tooth loss, but the problem may not be limited to the mouth. It is thought that gingivitis may be associated with heart diseases, diabetes, low birth weights, rheumatoid arthritis and many other systemic problems. There are different theories about this. According to someone, the patient has a predisposition to these problems and they occur independently of each other. According to another theory, signals caused by this inflammation in the gums (cytokines, etc.) spread throughout the body through circulation. A third theory says that bacteria themselves enter the circulation and cause problems, and there are studies showing that these bacteria are found in clots from heart attack survivors. In a fourth theory, antibodies produced against bacteria attack the body itself due to “molecular similarity” (2). Did all this remind you of another painting? This situation always reminds me of “leaky gut” and the events that occur as a result. Then we can talk about a kind of “leaky gum,” right?

Going back to the initial question… There may be some chance of scratching your teeth while cleaning your tartar (this is also a bit related to how the cleaning is done). However, the damage caused by not cleaning it is many times more than this. If the stone is formed, it can be brushed with paste, baking soda, etc. we cannot completely clean it with methods. As I said, even if some of the stones are gone, the problem will not be solved completely because the remaining surface will not be smooth. That’s why teeth need to be cleaned completely with special tools. You should also know that this cleaning will not guarantee that you will be stone-free for 6 months. Bacteria plaque can become petrified even in as little as 24 hours. This time can vary from person to person, depending on the structure of saliva and some factors related to the microbiome. But as a result, it is your duty to protect the cleaning.

So how can we protect it? Short method: using a toothbrush and dental floss. When you brush and floss properly, you can control the formation of tartar because you prevent the accumulation of plaque on the surface of the teeth. However, there is another method that looks at the situation more holistically and will benefit not only oral and dental health but also the whole body: Eating healthy!

According to the “Ecological Plaque Hypothesis”, which tries to explain the reason for the occurrence of caries and gum diseases, a change in environmental conditions may bring about the disease by causing disruption in the balance of dental plaque microflora (3). The usual suspect in creating this change is excessive consumption of processed carbohydrates. In a diet far from processed foods, the acid formed by natural complex carbohydrates taken is at a level that saliva can tolerate. However, if simple carbohydrates that are processed frequently are started to be consumed, the acidic environment that forms will turn into an environment where rotting bacteria can live comfortably and our protective bacteria cannot resist. The situation is similar for gum health… Both the sticky nature of processed carbohydrates and changing the profile of the gingival fluid increase plaque accumulation. The metabolic changes created by the increasing accumulation reduce the redox potential (electron uptake potential), the pH rises and a suitable environment is created for the reproduction of the disease-causing bacteria that were previously few in number. If the deficiency in the defense system of the person is added to these, consuming sugary foods will indirectly affect this place, then it will be easier for pathogenic microorganisms to gain weight. Continuous high blood sugar levels also increase oxidative stress and trigger inflammation in the gums as well as in other regions (4).

The following studies, which I have taken from an article examining the relationship between diet and oral health and systemic diseases, are a few examples to see the relationship between gum diseases and today’s diseases that develop due to excessive consumption of processed carbohydrates:

“There is a relationship between diabetes that develops as a result of abnormal blood glucose metabolism and periodontal disease indicators in both children and adults (Tsai et al., 2002; Lalla et al., 2006). reduced the risk of disease development (Merchant et al., 2003). Obesity, which is an indicator of excessive consumption of fermentable carbohydrates, has been found to be directly proportional to the increased risk of periodontal disease (Perlstein and Bissada, 1977; Saito et al., 1998, 2005; Alabdulkarim et al. ., 2005; Dalla Vecchia et al., 2005; Reeves et al., 2006). (5) “

In the same article, it is emphasized that tooth and gum problems may actually be an alarm bell for future systemic diseases. A drink containing 50 grams of sucrose per day increases the gingival pocket depth in just 4 days (Cheraskin et al., 1965), the removal of processed carbohydrates from the diet reduces gingival bleeding within a few weeks, on the other hand, the development of systemic chronic diseases takes years, in this respect it is It is said that meat problems should be seen as a harbinger of systemic chronic diseases.

In another article, let’s talk about systemic factors that facilitate the formation of tartar. For now, let’s finish this article with a brief summary: Once the tartar is formed, it is not harmful to clean gingivitis, but it is necessary. Afterwards, it is the responsibility of the person to protect the cleaned teeth. The quick method for this is an effective brushing and flossing habit. On the other hand, considering gingivitis as an indicator of chronic systemic problems that may occur in the future, immediately reviewing the diet and reducing the amount of processed, simple carbohydrates and the frequency of eating is the most important step to be taken.

Another article I liked about how important nutrition can be in oral and dental health was “Brushless, Paste Free, Mouth Healthy in the Stone Age”. You can read it here …

Resources:

  1. https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/abs/10.1177/08959374940080022001
  2. https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1111/j.1469-0691.2007.01798.x
  3. https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/full/10.1177/0022034517735295
  4. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/28266114
  5. Hujoel, P. (2009). Dietary Carbohydrates and Dental-Systemic Diseases. Journal of Dental Research, 88(6), 490–502. doi:10.1177/0022034509337700 
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