• Eat a Diet Rich in Calcium

    Here's Why:

    calcium Calcium is the most prevalent mineral in the human body. It plays an important role in maintaining good health. For example:
    • Calcium is essential to build and maintain strong bones at all stages of life, and therefore help prevent and/or manage osteoporosis. Calcium may also help with weight loss. In addition, research suggests that calcium and vitamin D supplementation may help to optimize blood glucose metabolism.
    • Calcium helps reduce your risk for these serious health conditions:
    The recommended intakes for calcium are:
    Age Adequate Intake
    (mg/day)
    0-6 months 200
    7 months-1 year 260
    1-3 years 700
    4-8 years 1,000
    9-18 years 1,300
    19-50 years 1,000
    Men 51-70 years 1,000
    Men 71 years or older 1,200
    Women 51 years and older 1,200
    Pregnant and breastfeeding teens 1,300
    Pregnant and breastfeeding adults 1,000

    Here's How:

    Dairy foods—milk, yogurt, and some cheeses—are the best dietary sources of calcium. These foods are also rich in vitamin D, which helps the body absorb calcium.
    Food Portion size Amount of calcium
    (mg)
    Yogurt 1 cup 300-400
    Milk 1 cup 300-400
    Macaroni and cheese, homemade 1 cup 362
    Parmesan cheese 1 tablespoon 336
    Eggnog, nonalcoholic 1 cup 330
    Chocolate milk 1 cup 300
    Ricotta cheese ½ cup 300
    Powdered milk ¼ cup 290
    Cheddar cheese 1 ounce 250
    Swiss cheese 1 ounce 250
    Provolone cheese 1 ounce 215
    Cheese pizza 1/6 of a frozen pizza 210
    Mozzarella cheese 1 ounce 175
    American cheese 1 ounce 160
    Cottage cheese 1 cup 120
    Frozen yogurt, soft serve ½ cup 100
    Ice cream ½ cup 80
    Absorption of calcium from some other dietary sources is not as great as that from dairy foods. Specifically, dark green vegetables contain oxalates, and grains contain phytates, which can bind with calcium and decrease their absorption. However, these foods still provide a good way to add calcium to your diet. Some examples of green vegetables that are good calcium sources are kale, broccoli, and Chinese cabbage.
    Read the Nutrition Facts label on tofu and fortified products to determine specific calcium levels of these foods.
    Food Portion size Amount of calcium
    (mg)
    Carnation breakfast bars 1.3 ounce bar 500
    Tofu, regular, processed with calcium ½ cup 435
    Calcium-fortified soy milk 1 cup 250-300
    Salmon, canned with edible bones 3 ounces 212
    Calcium-fortified orange juice ¾ cup 200
    Total raisin bran cereal 1 cup 200
    Blackstrap molasses 1 tablespoon 172
    Pudding, from cook & serve mix ½ cup 150
    Dried figs 5 figs 135
    Tofu, regular, processed without calcium ½ cup 130
    Anchovies with edible bones 3 ounces 125
    Turnip greens, boiled ½ cup 100
    Milk chocolate bar 1.5 ounces 85
    Okra, boiled ½ cup 77
    Tempeh ½ cup 77
    Kale, boiled ½ cup 70
    Mustard greens, boiled ½ cup 65
    Orange 1 medium 50
    Pinto beans ½ cup 45
    • When making oatmeal or other hot cereal, use milk instead of water.
    • Add powdered milk to hot cereal, casseroles, baked goods, and other hot dishes.
    • Make your own salad dressing by combining low-fat plain yogurt with herbs.
    • Add tofu (processed with calcium) to soups and pasta sauce.
    • If you like fish, eat canned fish (eg, salmon or sardines) with soft bones on crackers or bread.
    • For dessert, try low-fat frozen yogurt, ice cream, or pudding.
    • In baked goods, replace half of the fat with plain yogurt.
    Some people have difficulty digesting lactose, which is the main sugar in milk and some dairy products. This occurs when the body does not produce enough of the enzyme lactase to properly digest lactose. People with this condition, called lactose intolerance, may experience nausea, cramping, bloating, abdominal pain, gas, and diarrhea. This can occur anywhere from 15 minutes to several hours after eating milk or milk products.
    If you have lactose intolerance, take the following steps to be sure you meet your calcium needs:
    • Eat dairy foods along with a meal rather than alone; the presence of other foods in the digestive tract can make it easier for your body to tolerate the lactose.
    • Eat smaller portions of dairy foods. Many people find that they are able to tolerate ½ cup or ¾ cup of milk at a time, several times during the day, rather than 1 cup or more in one sitting.
    • Choose aged cheeses, such as Swiss, Colby, Parmesan, and cheddar, which have most of their lactose removed during processing.
    • Try dairy foods made with live, active cultures, such as yogurt and buttermilk. The "friendly" bacteria in these foods help to digest the lactose. These foods should have a "Live and Active Cultures" label.
    • Be sure to include nondairy sources of calcium in your daily diet.
    If you are unable to meet your calcium needs through dietary sources, ask your doctor if you should take a calcium supplement. The two main types of supplements are carbonate and citrate. Calcium carbonate (eg, Tums and Rolaids) is best taken with food. Calcium citrate (eg, Citracal) can be taken with or without food, and may have better absorption in people older than 50 years old. Some points to remember when choosing and using a calcium supplement include:
    • Since the amount of calcium differs among products, check the label.
    • Check your vitamin D intake too. This vitamin is essential for absorption of calcium. Milk is a great source of vitamin D, as is sunlight.
    • If you take both calcium and iron supplements, take them at different times of the day, because they can impair each other's absorption.
    • If you take more than 500 mg of supplemental calcium, space it out throughout the day; it is better absorbed that way.

    RESOURCES

    American Dietetic Association http://www.eatright.org/

    Office of Dietary Supplements http://ods.od.nih.gov/

    CANADIAN RESOURCES

    Dietitians of Canada http://www.dietitians.ca/

    Healthy Canadians http://www.healthycanadians.gc.ca/

    References

    Bowes and Church's Food Values of Portions Commonly Used. 17th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Lippincott Williams & Wilkins; 1998.

    Calcium. Office of Dietary Supplements, National Institutes of Health website. Available at: http://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/Calcium-QuickFacts/. Accessed April 14, 2011.

    Duyff RL. The American Dietetic Association's Complete Food & Nutrition Guide. Minneapolis, MN: Chronimed Publishing; 1998.

    Duyff RL. The American Dietetic Association's Complete Food & Nutrition Guide. 3rd ed. Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley & Sons, Inc.; 2006.

    Garrison RH, Somer E. The Nutrition Desk Reference. New Canaan, CT: Keats Publishing; 1995.

    Heaney RP. Calcium intake and disease prevention. Arq Bras Endocrinol Metabol. 2006;50:685-693.

    Hofmeyr G, Duley L, Atallah A. Dietary calcium supplementation for prevention of pre-eclampsia and related problems: a systematic review and commentary. BJOG. 2007 Jun 12. [Epub ahead of print]

    Pittas AG, Lau J, Hu FB, Dawson-Hughes B. The role of vitamin D and calcium in type 2 diabetes. A systematic review and meta-analysis. J Clin Endocrinol Metab. 2007;92:2017-2029. Epub 2007 Mar 27.

    Straub DA. Calcium supplementation in clinical practice: a review of forms, doses, and indications [review]. Nutr Clin Pract. 2007;22:286-296.

    7/6/2006 DynaMed's Systematic Literature Surveillance DynaMed's Systematic Literature Surveillance: Villar J, Abdel-Aleem H, Merialdi M, et al. World Health Organization randomized trial of calcium supplementation among low calcium intake pregnant women. Am J Obstet Gynecol. 2006;194:639-649.

    7/6/2009 DynaMed's Systematic Literature Surveillance http://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed/what.php: Kumar A, Devi SG, Batra S, Singh C, Shukla DK. Calcium supplementation for the prevention of pre-eclampsia. Int J Gynaecol Obstet. 2009;104:32-36.

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