Building bones with Baobab: a natural source of calcium

When most people think of sources of calcium, they typically think of milk and other dairy products.  Nevertheless, almonds contain more calcium than milk gram for gram and amazingly, Baobab superfruit  powder contains even more!  It contains 3.5 x the amount of calcium in milk and 1.5 x the amount found in almonds which may well make it the richest plant-based source of this mineral. This is very good news for vegans and vegetarians who choose to avoid dairy products or those who are lactose-intolerant.

What is Calcium?

Calcium is the fifth most abundant element in the world (it’s actually a soft grey alkaline earth metal) and there is more calcium than any other mineral in the human body.  The average adult has about 900g – 1.3kg  of calcium distributed throughout the body. As would be expected, 99% of calcium is deposited in the skeleton and teeth with the remaining 1% found in the blood and cells. This 1% of calcium however is so vital to maintain critical metabolic functions  that the body will draw on calcium stores in the bones – even at the expense of causing osteoporosis – to keep blood and cellular calcium levels within the proper range.

“Baobab fruit powder may be the richest source of plant-based calcium”

Why do we need Calcium?

Health professionals agree that most people are not consuming sufficient amounts of calcium in their diets.  Apart from calcium providing support and hardness to bones and teeth, calcium is also necessary for regulating muscle contraction including the heartbeat.  It plays a key role in blood coagulation as well as communication in the nervous system.  In addition, blood vessels need calcium to move blood throughout the body and to help release hormones and enzymes that affect almost every metabolic function in the human body.

Adequate calcium intake has been shown to lead to stronger teeth but this is not the only reason it’s good for your dental health. As you age, the jawbone is said to lose mass faster than any other bones. Making sure you are getting enough calcium slows down the rate at which your jawbone mass is lost in this way also supporting  dental health.

Too much calcium (taken via supplements as opposed to natural food sources) can lead to constipation and the formation of kidney stones (up to 80% of kidney stones are made up of calcium)

What happens when we don’t get enough Calcium?

Calcium continues strengthening our bones until the age of 20-25 years, or whenever we reach our peak mass.  Thereafter, calcium helps to support bone maintenance as well as slowing down bone density loss, which is a part of the aging process. People whose calcium intake is inadequate before the age of 20-25, have a much higher risk later on in life of developing brittle bone disease or osteoporosis. 

Nutritional Therapist Megan Bosman notes that some of the most common symptoms of calcium deficiency are muscle cramps and spasms, and low bone density which in children can lead to rickets and bone deformities.   In the long term it’s also possible for low calcium intake to contribute to high blood pressure,  osteoporosis and colon cancer.  It’s a problem that a calcium deficiency often doesn’t produce immediately obvious symptoms in the short term. This is because the body maintains the necessary calcium levels in the blood by taking it directly from bone.

The recommended intake of calcium is very much dependent on age and life stage. As people get older, the efficiency of calcium absorption decreases and as you’ll see from the table below, the recommended calcium intakes are higher for people over age 70.

Calcium RDA

Which conditions benefit from Calcium?

As women may often experience greater bone loss after menopause, post-menopausal women are one of the groups most at risk of calcium deficiencies and who need to significantly increase their dietary intake of calcium.   There’s also good evidence that calcium can help prevent or control high blood pressure and may reduce PMS symptoms.

For pregnant women, increasing  calcium intake may to help prevent pre-eclampsia, preterm birth and lower the risks  of serious problems related to high blood pressure in pregnancy.

Because milk is generally considered to be a good source of calcium, those people who are lactose-intolerant may have a deficiency if they don’t consume adequate plant-based calcium. This makes Baobab powder is an ideal source of calcium. 

“Baobab powder is an excellent source of calcium for children, vegans,  pregnant and post-menopausal women”

A Natural Source of Calcium

It’s almost always preferable to source calcium from natural foods as opposed to synthetic supplements.   Nutritional Therapist Katherine Tudsbury  says that studies are now showing that not only is calcium supplementation largely ineffective, it could even be contributing to heart disease. Calcium supplementation has been linked to an increase in heart attacks in various studies. This may be due to calcium build-up in the artery walls and calcium deposits causing a hardening of the heart tissues.  We know that the plaque that builds up in artery walls is made up largely of calcium deposits and NOT cholesterol. This contributes to the stiffening of arteries.

Moreover, many experts suggest that while dairy products may contain large amounts of elemental calcium, plant sources of calcium are preferable for the following reasons:

  • plant food sources are more easily absorbed than dairy food sources – some experts cite a 30% absorption rate for dairy foods versus a 50% to 70% absorption for plant foods
  • many plant sources, unlike dairy foods, provide the cofactors such as magnesium that aid calcium absorption. Baobab fruit powder is high in magnesium. 

The baobab fruit is one of the few fruits to dry out completely while still on the tree. Baobab powder is a natural source of calcium. The pods are only harvested when they fall to the ground (EcoProducts Baobab pods are never taken directly off the tree) and they only fall when they are completely dried out. This means that the powder requires minimal handling and processing.  All we do is separate the powder from the seeds (which we press to get Baobab oil) and then sieve it to give it the wonderfully fine, silky textured powder which mixes easily into foods and drinks that EcoProducts has become known for.

Baobab powder has been safely consumed for thousands of years and Baobab fruit pulp received its GRAS certification (Generally Recognised As Safe) from the FDA in 2008.

Baobab powder has a shelf life of 2 years.

“plant sources of calcium such as baobab powder, are more easily absorbed than dairy food sources” 

How to enjoy Baobab Powder

Mix a teaspoon or two into your breakfast cereal or porridge or add a tablespoon to your favourite fruit smoothie or green drink.  Click here for our recipes.

Because it’s a natural food, there’s no cut and dried formula for how much Baobab powder to consume a day.  However, to enjoy the full benefits of baobab powder and for optimum results, as a general rule we recommend taking around 1 tablespoon a day.  Two tablespoon of Baobab powder (12g) will give you approximately 48mg of calcium. Baobab RDA

“Two tablespoon of Baobab powder (12g) will give you approximately 48mg of calcium”

 

 

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