• High-Calcium Diet

    Osteoporosis Prevention and Treatment

    Calcium is a mineral that is essential to your body's health including the growth and maintenance of strong bones. Your body needs a constant supply of calcium. When there is not enough calcium available from the diet, your body pulls what it needs from your bones. Over time, a diet lacking in calcium can lead to osteoporosis.

    Why Should I Follow a High-Calcium Diet?

    If you are at risk for or have osteoporosis, a diet high in calcium is one important part of your prevention or treatment plan. Calcium can help build and maintain strong bones. If you have osteoporosis, the diet can reduce the rate of bone loss.

    How Much Calcium Do I Need?

    In general, men and premenopausal women need 1,000 milligrams of calcium per day. Postmenopausal women need 1,200 milligrams per day. Teenagers need 1,300 milligrams per day.

    What Are Some Good Sources of Calcium?

    Rather than focusing on consuming more of just one calcium-rich food, such as milk, try adding a variety of different foods. The table below lists examples of some foods that are good sources of calcium:
    Specific Food (1 cup) Approximate Milligrams of Calcium
    Calcium-fortified orange juice 330-350
    Dried figs 241
    Specific Food (Amount) Approximate Milligrams of Calcium
    General Mills Fiber One Bran (½ cup) 200
    General Mills Whole Grain Total (¾ cup) 400
    General Mills Wheaties (1 cup) 200
    Kellogg's All Bran Original (½ cup) 250
    Quaker Life (¾ cup) 200
    Specific Food (Amount) Approximate Milligrams of Calcium
    Cheddar (1 ounce) 204
    Gruyere (1 ounce) 287
    Mozzarella, part skim (1 ounce) 222
    Muenster (1 ounce) 203
    Parmesan, grated (1 ounce) 314
    Pasteurized American (1 ounce) 156
    Provolone (1 ounce) 214
    Swiss (1 ounce) 224
    Cottage cheese 1% milkfat (1 cup) 138
    Specific Food (Amount) Approximate Milligrams of Calcium
    Frozen (1 cup) 74
    Fruit, nonfat, or lowfat (6 ounces) 258
    Milk (dairy)
    Specific Food (1 cup) Approximate Milligrams of Calcium
    Nonfat 306
    Lowfat 290
    Whole 276
    Specific Food (Amount) Approximate Milligrams of Calcium
    Atlantic sardines with bones, canned in oil, drained 2 sardines 92
    Canned pink salmon with bones and liquid (3 ounces) 181
    Canned sockeye salmon with bones, drained (3 ounces) 203
    Specific Food (1 cup) Approximate Milligrams of Calcium
    Soy 93
    Soy, calcium-fortified 368
    Soybeans 261
    Specific Food (1 cup) Approximate Milligrams of Calcium
    Collards (frozen, chopped, boiled) 357
    Kale (chopped, fresh, boiled) 94
    Kale (chopped, frozen, boiled) 179
    Mustard greens (fresh, boiled) 104
    Spinach (chopped, fresh, boiled) 245
    Spinach (chopped, frozen, boiled) 290

    What Other Dietary or Lifestyle Changes Should I Make?

    In addition to increasing calcium intake, other important components of preventing or treating osteoporosis include:
    Vitamin D is essential in order for your body to use the calcium you consume. Good sources of vitamin D include: fortified milk, salmon, mackerel, egg yolks, and sunlight. Weight-bearing exercise, such as walking, running, and strength-training, can help strengthen your bones. Also, quitting smoking is essential to stopping further bone loss.

    Are There Any Foods That I Should Avoid?

    While there is no single food to avoid on this diet, a diet extremely high in fiber or alcohol can interfere with calcium absorption in your body. Caffeine, found in coffee, tea or soda, can leach calcium out of your bones and into your urine.

    Suggestions on Increasing Calcium Intake

    Here are some tips on how to increase your intake of calcium:
    • Choose breakfast cereals that are fortified with calcium.
    • Add milk instead of water when making oatmeal.
    • Use canned salmon, instead of tuna, to make lunch salads.
    • Drink calcium-fortified orange juice.
    • Add nonfat dry milk to recipes, such as pancakes, bread, cookies, puddings, and cocoa.
    • Use yogurt in place of sour cream or mayonnaise when making dressings, dips, or sauces.
    • Add shredded cheese to foods, such as baked potatoes, casseroles, and salads.
    • If you are finding it difficult to get enough calcium through your diet alone, talk to your doctor about taking calcium supplements.


    National Dairy Council http://www.nationaldairycouncil.org

    National Osteoporosis Foundation http://www.nof.org


    Health Canada Food and Nutrition http://www.hc-sc.gc.ca

    Osteoporosis Canada http://www.osteoporosis.ca


    Calcium. Office of Dietary Supplements website. Available at: http://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/Calcium-HealthProfessional/. Updated November 16, 2012. Accessed February 15, 2013.

    Calcium intake and supplementation. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: http://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed/what.php. Updated November 2, 2012 Accessed February 15, 2013.

    Osteoporosis. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: http://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed/what.php. Updated February 5, 2013. Accessed February 15, 2013.

    Vitamin D. Office of Dietary Supplements website. Available at: http://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/VitaminD-HealthProfessional/. Updated June 24, 2011. Accessed February 15, 2013.

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