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Q – What mineral is used for making cement, as well as cheese? In the average person, it weighs about three pounds(!?) And, is the fifth most abundant element in the earth's crust?
A – Calcium
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This week, a short series about this incredibly important mineral
A few other fun facts:
It makes up just over 3% of the soil, air, and oceans
Calcium salts are used to produce a deep orange color in fireworks
The reason doctors can take pictures of our bones is because of calcium. It doesn't let certain energy (x-rays) through, and thus will appear bright white on film
Even though calcium was known for thousands of years prior, it wasn't purified and identified as an element until 1808 by Sir Humphrey Davy of England
Calcium makes up the hard outer structure of the bones in our bodies and gives them their strength. The insides of our bones are actually very spongy and full of holes, which makes them really light
“I get by with a little help from my friends” ~ The Beatles
I'm forever amazed by the interrelationship, and interdependence, between the nutrients in our bodies
Calcium and Magnesium
When we think of calcium, we must also consider magnesium, as they're a partnership, working in concert together in our bodies. Calcium needs magnesium to be absorbed.
If we take a step back and look at the standard American diet, it's really quite heavy in calcium, with very little magnesium. For example, animal foods tend to be higher in calcium, while many other products are being fortified during the manufacturing process
Magnesium, on the other hand, comes from foods that are rich in chlorophyll (essentially anything green)
Certainly, you don't have to take up salads for breakfast, but it's something to tuck away in the back of your mind. If you're someone who enjoys yogurt, consider sipping a glass of herbal tea, as it will help the calcium be better utilized.
Calcium and Vitamin D
Our bodies are always monitoring the levels of calcium in the blood. When levels are too low, we stimulate the hormone parathyroid. It goes to the bones and withdraws some calcium to put into circulation
When our calcium levels are too high, the hormone calcitonin is called upon to remove the excess and deposit it back into our bones
What does all of this have to do with Vitamin D?
It's critical here, and it acts as a hormone itself.
A facilitator really, between the parathyroid and calcitonin hormones, supporting calcium flow, in whichever way it needs to go — going to the bone? Vitamin D will help get it there. Going to the bloodstream?
Vitamin D will lead the way
How does Calcium help our bodies?
Not only is magnesium a helper when it comes to calcium absorption, but they team up to do other great things as well. One example is their effect on bone integrity.
They are also the stimulators of nerve and muscle contraction. Calcium stimulates the contraction, while magnesium stimulates the relaxation, particularly critical for functions like our heartbeats(!)
(If someone has more muscle strain, pain, spasms, or twitching, particularly at night, it could be an indication that their diet is low in magnesium)
Calcium also provides structure. Ninety percent of our calcium in our bodies is found in our teeth and bones. The remainder is spread throughout our hair, nails, skin, tissue, and bodily fluids.
Hormone production uses calcium
Calcium is a very alkaline buffering mineral. Think again about the standard American diet, by and large it's acidic. Calcium can help to counter some of these effects
It is also very important when it comes to blood clotting, and helping to maintain our nervous systems (especially neurotransmitter release). Another nugget to tuck away for the times you're under mental or emotional stress, your need for calcium will be significantly
What happens when there's an imbalance of calcium or magnesium in our body? Are there other things we can do to help it be absorbed? What about supplementation?
Over the years I've certainly made my share of roasted veggies, but these, with a crust of parmesan and thyme, are simply amazing
A wonderful balance of sweet, herbal, and savory, with a crispy outside, and creamy center. The bottoms of the rounds took on a dark caramelization from the baking pan.
They're quick to throw together, and end up with such a fabulous texture.
Loved this recipe. It was very simple but perfect
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~ Adapted from Date Night In by Ashley Rodriguez
Thyme Parmesan Roasted Sweet Potatoes
- 1 ½ Tbsp cornstarch (or arrowroot powder)
- 2 medium sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into ¼" coins
- 2 Tbsp coconut oil, melted but not hot (or olive oil)
- 2 Tbsp fresh thyme leaves
- ½ tsp fine-grain sea salt
- ½ cup grated parmesan
- pinch freshly ground black pepper
- Preheat the oven to 450° F
- Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
- In a large plastic bag, toss the sweet potato coins in the corn starch to coat. Transfer them to a large mixing bowl, drizzle the oil and toss to coat.
- Add the thyme, salt, parmesan and a few grinds of black pepper and give it a couple more stirs to coat.
- Transfer the coins to the parchment-lined tray and bake for 30-45 minutes, flipping halfway through so both sides get nice and crisp.
- Serve with BBQ sauce, ranch dressing or dip of choice.