By Susan Heckler
Calcium benefits have been known for many years, it aids in maintaining bone health and dental health, as well as the prevention of colon cancer and the reduction of obesity. Once touted as a must for youth, it is now understood that we need calcium from cradle to grave. As we get older, our bodies absorb less calcium from the food that we eat, so it’s important that we continue to consume calcium-rich foods and use supplements. Dairy products are beneficial sources of calcium, but there are other unexpected ones too. See the chart below for comparison. Not on the lists and charts available are eggshells! Eggshells are about 90-95% calcium carbonate, and are easily absorbable by our bodies. This is great for those who don’t digest dairy well of have allergies. Using eggshells as a source of dietary calcium may lead to food poisoning due to salmonella or other bacterial contamination so take caution. Use the eggs as you normally would, and instead of discarding the egg shells, run them under clean, cool water. Make sure to get all the egg white out of the egg shell. To kill all bacteria, pasteurize the eggshells by bringing the eggshells to at least 140 degrees Fahrenheit as measured with a food thermometer for at least 3 1/2 minutes. A rolling boil, at 212 degrees Fahrenheit, falls well above the 160 degrees recommended by the USDA Food Inspection and Safety Service for safe egg consumption. Then, using a blender or coffee grinder, pulverize the egg shell into a powder. Calcium content may vary from eggshell to eggshell and from batch to batch, depending on the method used to extract it. 1/2 tsp. of dry, powered egg shell contains around 400 mg of calcium. The average person should consume around 1000 mg of calcium, which is easily done if you are eating a proper diet. Use 1/2 tsp. in drinks, smoothies, cereals, recipes, etc. Excessive intake of calcium can lead to muscle cramps, so be sure to eat a banana or a magnesium source food to negate these effects.