This is the first in a 10 week series that I’m going to do on mood boosting vitamins. You’ll see these posts every Monday in “Happy How To”.
This week I want to talk about calcium. We all know this vitamin is vital for bone strength. If we don’t get enough of it, we start having all sorts of physical problems like osteoporosis, nerve sensitivity, muscle cramps, irregular heartbeat and blood clots (among other things). What you might not know is that a calcium deficiency can also cause depression, anxiety and insomnia. In order to properly absorb calcium (and a few other vitamins, as you’ll find out in the coming weeks), you need vitamin D. We get vitamin D from the sun, but we also have to make sure to get it from foods, especially in the winter when the sun isn’t as strong.
PMS can also be caused by or made worse by a calcium deficiency. In fact, it’s possible that what some people think is PMS is actually hypocalcaemia, which is low levels of calcium in the blood. It can be caused by increased estrogen, which affects your body’s ability to absorb calcium.
It’s important to note that having too much calcium can also cause depression. It’s unlikely that you’d manage to get too much calcium from foods. Usually an excess of calcium is caused by a problem with the parathyroid gland, which releases a hormone to regulate the amount of calcium in your bloodstream and bones. However, you should consult your doctor if you’re considering taking calcium supplements, just to make sure you don’t end up taking too much.
So, what can you eat to get calcium without the use of supplements? Usually we think of milk and dairy products (eggs, cheese, yogurt), and these are often fortified with vitamin D to help you absorb the calcium you’re eating. It’s also found in spinach, kale, broccoli, figs, almonds, soy beans, kidney beans, lentils, hazelnuts, sardines and white rice. I was surprised to learn that another good source is brown sugar and molasses, so a lot of deserts can also be made high in calcium.
Here are some links to my favorite calcium-packed recipes: