Calcium is the most commonly found mineral in the body. It is important for the growth and maintenance of bones. Dairy foods provide over 75 percent of our daily calcium needs. Other sources of calcium include almonds, broccoli, green leafy vegetables, oysters, tofu and beans. Carbohydrates, such as breakfast cereals, tortillas, white bread and potatoes, are also considered moderate sources of dietary calcium.
In the body, calcium is used primarily for its ability to build bones. While approximately 99 percent of calcium is needed for bone health, it is also important for muscle function, maintaining a regular heartbeat, transmission of nerve signals, secreting hormones and communication within cells. Calcium levels within the body are tightly monitored and do not fluctuate with changes in diet. If calcium levels in the body become low, bone tissues are broken down so that calcium may be released and used by other areas of the body.
Calcium needs are highest during periods of growth and development. Children and adolescents require the highest amount of calcium at approximately 1,300 mg per day. Adults, over the age of 19, require only 1,000 mg calcium per day. Both pregnant and lactating women also require 1,000 mg calcium per day. Calcium needs increase slightly with age due to deteriorating bone health. Adults over the age of 71 require 1,200 mg calcium each day. The adequate intake level, or AI, of calcium for infants, ages 0 to 12 months, is 200 mg per day. This is the considered the amount needed to ensure proper bodily functioning.
A baked potato, with skin, provides approximately 26 mg of calcium. Removing the skin lowers the calcium content to only 8 mg. Of all the varieties of potatoes, baked sweet potatoes provide the highest amount of calcium with about 68 mg per potato. Alternative cooking methods can greatly affect the calcium content of potatoes. A microwaved potato contains approximately 20 mg calcium and a boiled potato contains only 7 mg calcium.
Other Nutrition Facts
A baked potato, with skin, provides 161 calories, 4 g protein, 0.2 g fat and 37 g carbohydrates. They also contain approximately 4 g fiber and no cholesterol. By removing the skin, you decrease the nutrition content to 145 calories, 3 g protein, 33 g carbohydrates and only 2 g fiber. Removing the skin does not change the fat content of a potato. While sweet potatoes contain more calcium than other varieties, they also contain higher amounts of fiber. A baked sweet potato, with skin, provides 162 calories, 4 g protein, 0.3 g fat, 37 g carbohydrate and 6 g fiber.