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Nutrition: A quick guide to calcium

BikesEtc
1 Jun 2016

As a cyclist, your skeleton can lose some of its density, so it’s worth boning up on what foods will help you protect it.

Riding a bike is a great way to keep fit but a unique combination of factors, including the fact that it’s non-impact exercise, an endurance sport, and the fact that you tend to sweat a lot, means that it can have a detrimental affect on bone density. In fact, a number of studies have suggested a link between cycling and osteopenia and osteoporosis, conditions which famously cut Brit cycling legend Chris Boardman’s career short. Throw the fact that cycling can involve the odd tumble and there are plenty of reasons why you need strong bones. Weight training at the gym will help, but here are six ways to max the calcium in your diet. 

Sardines

These little fish are quite simply dietary super stars. Cheap, healthy and tasty, they’re super-rich in calcium as well as providing you with that all-important hit of vitamin D to maximise calcium absorption. Just one 120g tin contains 300mg of calcium. Try eating them on wholemeal toast on a bed of watercress – another veg which provides a decent calcium kick.  

Dairy Products

Milk, yoghurt and cheese are all rich sources of calcium, and tend to be the major source of calcium in Western diets. Opt for low-fat natural yoghurts, skimmed milk and cottage cheese to keep the fat in your diet down. You want healthy bones but you don’t want a chubby tum slowing you down. 

Figs

There’s plenty of calcium in these sweet little wonders along with a fair bit of iron, which you need for transporting oxygen about your body. So rather than reach for an energy gel, why not pop a few dried figs in a plastic bag in your cycling jersey next time you go for a ride? You’ll be giving your bones a boost while you’re in the saddle. 

Broccoli 


You’d be mad not make these little green trees a regular part of your diet. They’re crammed with goodness including plenty of calcium and – believe it or not – nearly twice as much vitamin C as you’ll find in an orange. So not just good for your bones but also your immune system. Don’t just eat the florets either – the chunky stem which often gets binned is perfectly edible. Chop it up and add it to soups, stews or a stir fry. 

Dark Green Leafy Veg


What if you’re a vegan, though, or lactose intolerant or just don’t like dairy products? Well, fear not because dark green leafy veg are another superb and tasty source of calcium. Spring greens, kale, and pak choi all provide a healthy hit of calcium. Try sautéing pak choi in olive oil with calcium-rich tofu, with chopped garlic and mushrooms thrown in, and serve it on a bed of brown rice. You’ll get plenty of calcium, plus that all-important vitamin D hit off the ’shrooms. Oh, and a quick, tasty meal into the bargain!  

Supplements

The recommended daily dose of calcium to encourage healthy bone density is 1,000 milligrams, which you can either get from your diet or, of course, take in one hit with a supplement. Holland & Barrett’s Absorbable Calcium Capsules 1000mg (£7.59 for 100 capsules, hollandandbarrett.com) would do the trick. Not least because they come with added vitamin D3, which will help your body to absorb the calcium with maximum efficiency. 

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