The Micronutrient for our Favorite Macronutrient

by Maria Meyer

It does not take much more than a quick walk through any of the Boston College dining halls to realize that BC students love their protein. Grilled chicken breast, beans and legumes, and eggs are ambiguous on campus. But how much is too much? According to the Department of Health and Human Services, you only need .36 grams of protein per pound per day to meet your dietary recommendations. This equates to about 54 grams for a 150 pound person. Even if that sounds like a lot, to put it in perspective, a 3.5 ounce chicken breast (a typical serving) already provides you with 30 grams of protein. But, we students will most likely keep over consuming protein to build muscle at the Plex and because we generally enjoy and benefit from our high protein diets.

While there is no protein deficiency, college students here on the Heights could definitely benefit from more calcium. The relationship between calcium and protein may not be evident. However, our bodies actually use calcium to break down protein. So the more protein we eat, the more calcium we need to actually facilitate the use of that chicken or omelet in our body. If we do not get that calcium in our daily diet, we end up taking calcium from our bones. Over time, this results in a higher susceptibility to breaks and fractures. So while one may think eating protein helps you build muscle while you are lifting at the Plex or running the Res, it is not very useful and may actually be harmful long term if you don’t get in your calcium as well!

As you take a glance around Lower or Mac, you most likely will not see enough calcium rich foods. It may seem difficult to sneak in the recommended 1,000 mg of calcium every day, but it is so important to ensure your body is able to stay strong! Making conscious decisions to increase your calcium intake can be easy and delicious. A cup of skim or soy milk can easily give you 200-300 mg depending on the brand. Adding in some yogurt to your fruit from the salad bar is a simple 150-200 mg of calcium. A slice of cheese on your garden or beef burger runs you approximately 100 calories and 200 mg of calcium. For vegans, soy milk is a great calcium source as well as tofu, which has an astonishing 400 mg of calcium per half cup.

Our 20s really is our prime time- not just because we get to have the times of our lives at BC, but also because we are at the best age to strengthen our bones. So next time you find yourself making dinner for your roommates or find yourself in a dining hall, grab a glass of milk or some tofu on top of your salad- your bones will thank you!

For more information about healthy eating schedule an Individual Health Plan (iHP) or iNourish group program here, bc.edu/healthpro.

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