There are a couple ways the calcium message has been pushed by the dairy industry and makers of products with added calcium. There’s the “you need calcium for healthy teeth and bones” message that’s mainly targeted to kids and parents, and there’s the “you don’t want osteoporosis, so get more calcium” message that’s targeted to women. You couldn’t be faulted for thinking that men don’t need to be so concerned about calcium intake.
But they do.
According to a new study published in the Journal of Nutrition, while low calcium was associated with tooth loss in both sexes, the risk was 70% higher for men.
According to Byron Richards’s report of the research,
Men are typically not as concerned about women with their calcium intake as their bones are generally larger and less likely to develop osteoporosis. That assumption is itself misguided, since the vitality of bone health is now recognized as a major contributor to overall metabolic health.
This new study may help men ensure an adequate calcium status as it demonstrates that their teeth may be the weak link in their calcium chain. Part of the study looked at overall number of teeth (1-25 vs. 26-32). If a person had low calcium intake then the odds of having fewer than 26 teeth increased to 57% for men and 44% for women.
A subset of the patients also had data regarding the rate of tooth loss during the study. This data showed a 70% increased rate of tooth loss for men who were low in calcium. This is a clear sign for men that if they are low in calcium they will eventually reach a point in their life wherein they start losing teeth at an alarming rate.
While high quality calcium supplements (ideally, taken with magnesium) may be helpful as a preventive measure, we recommend getting as much calcium as possible as naturally as possible: from the foods you eat – not foods that are juiced up with added calcium but those in which it occurs naturally.
Most of us know that dairy is a good source of calcium, but there are lots of other sources, including some that you might not even think of as calcium-rich foods:
- Dark, leafy greens (e.g., collards, mustard greens, kale)
- Green beans
- Brussels sprouts
- Sesame seeds
- Blackstrap molasses
This article from SixWise offers additional info and a list of 26 high calcium ingredients.
All fine and well, you say, but how the heck do you prepare such foods and make them taste good? Do a little research. Many recipe sites – allrecipes.com and Super Cook are two – let you search by ingredient. Just type in the name of the food, start the search and you’ll see a wide variety of dishes made with that ingredient.
And don’t think you have to go all out and start loading your diet with unfamiliar foods just to get enough calcium. Easing into it generally works a lot better in the long run. Try one new food a week. If you don’t like it, don’t eat it again. Try something else. And by widening your palate in this way, you also take steps toward creating better variety in your diet (most of us eat a relatively narrow range of foods) that can help ensure you get plenty of all the other vitamins and minerals you need, as well.