Optimal Calcium Intake for Healthy Bones
Calcium is the primary mineral in your bones. It is critical to the physical structure as well as functioning of the human body. Without a steady supply of calcium in your diet, your body will steal it from the only source it has, your bones. Over time, frequent calcium withdrawals can make bones weak and fragile. This can lead to the crippling disease called osteoporosis, which is a major public health threat for 28 million Americans, particularly women.
Calcium plays an important role in maintaining healthy bones. National surveys have shown that many Americans are not consuming enough calcium. Teenage girls who frequently diet, often consume inadequate dietary calcium needed for building strong bones. The goal is to get plenty of calcium, preferably from dietary sources. One way to increase the amount of calcium in your diet is to eat calcium-rich foods like low-fat milk, cheese, broccoli, or tofu. If you are unable to get enough calcium through your diet, a calcium supplement may be appropriate. Adequate calcium intake is essential to maintain bone strength and can playa vital role in preventing osteoporosis- related fractures.
Dietary Reference Intakes for Calcium according to the National Academy of Sciences:
|Age 9 -18 years:||1,300 mg/day|
|Adults 19-50 years:||1,000 mg/day|
|Adults over 50 years:||1,200 mg/day|
|Pregnant or lactating - under 18 years||1,300 mg/day|
|Pregnant or lactating - 19- 50 years||1,000 mg/day|
|Postmenopausal women not receiving HRT||1,500 mg/day|
|Anyone over the age of 65:||1,500 mg/day|
Natural foods, especially dairy products, are the best source of calcium.
|Milk, 8oz glass||300 mg|
|Yogurt, low fat 8oz||415 mg|
|Calcium-fortified orange juice, 8oz||300-350 mg|
|Cottage cheese, 1 cup||138 mg|
|Cheese, mozzarella, 1oz||150 mg|
|Cheese, cheddar, 1oz||200 mg|
|Broccoli, 1 cup||180 mg|
|Turnip greens, 1 cup||200 mg|
|Cabbage, 1/2 cup||21 mg|
|Sweet potato with skin||286 mg|
|Carrots, 1/2 cup||23 mg|
|Clams, 3 oz||65 mg|
|Crab, 3 oz||64 mg|
|Tofu, 1 cup||258 mg|
|Salmon with bones, 3 oz||208 mg|
|Sardines, 3 oz||267 mg|
Some people do not consume enough calcium from food and may need to take a calcium supplement. The amount of calcium you will need from a supplement depends on how much calcium is consumed from food sources. Several different calcium compounds or salts are used in supplements. It is important to note the actual amount of calcium In the different supplements. When choosing a calcium supplement, stick to brand names with proven reliability. It is best to avoid calcium from bone meal, dolomite, or unrefined oyster shells, as these may contain lead or other toxic metals. If the product has .USP. on the label, this means that it has met voluntary standards of purity and dissolution established by the United States Pharmacopeia (USP). These products are safe to take and well-absorbed by the body.
Nonprescription Calcium Supplements:
|Calcium carbonate (Caltrate 600, Tums 500)||200, 250, 500, 600 mg/tablet|
|Calcium citrate (Citracal)||200, 315, 500 mg/tablet|
|Calcium phosphate (Posture D)||600 mg|
It is very hard to consume too much calcium. A daily intake of 2,500 mg poses little risk of adverse effects in most healthy individuals. A few individuals, whose intestines absorb ingested calcium at unusually high efficiencies, may be at risk for kidney stones. If you have a history of kidney stones ask your physician before starting a high calcium diet.
Vitamin D is essential for optimal calcium absorption and bone health. Vitamin D allows calcium to leave the intestine and enter the bloodstream to reach the bones. It is synthesized in the skin through exposure to sunlight. While most people are able to obtain enough vitamin D naturally, vitamin D production decreases in the elderly, in people who are housebound, and during the winter. These individuals may require vitamin D supplementation to ensure a daily intake of at least 400 IU, but not more than 800 IU of vitamin D. Milk in the United States is generally fortified with this vitamin, as are other foods such as breakfast cereals. Good sources of Vitamin 0 are fatty fish and cod liver oil, but the most important source is simply sunlight.
Some researchers have found indications that high calcium intake may have a negative effect on zinc absorption. Zinc is necessary to maintain a healthy immune system and skin. Although these data are very preliminary, it wouldn't hurt to watch your zinc intake as well. Best sources for zinc include liver, beef, Iamb, pork, cheddar cheese, popcorn, nuts, whole-wheat products and oysters.
Having an adequate calcium intake is only one of the steps necessary for a healthy skeleton. A high calcium intake will not protect a person against bone loss caused by estrogen deficiency, physical inactivity, alcohol abuse, smoking, or various medical disorders and treatments. Establishing healthy habits, such as regular exercise and smoking cessation, will contribute greatly to strong bones. By preventing the debilitating effects of bone loss, you can look forward to a healthy, active life.
Sample Menu for Adequate Daily Calcium Intake:
|1/2 cup milk||150 mg|
|1 cup orange juice fortified with calcium||300 mg|
|1 cup calcium-fortified cereal||200 mg|
|1 slice wheat bread||25 mg|
|2 slices wheat bread||50 mg|
|2 oz turkey|
|Swiss cheese, 1 oz||260 mg|
|Lettuce, tomato, mayonnaise|
|Yogurt,1 cup||400 mg|
|Chicken breast, 3 oz|
|Broccoli, 1 cup||180 mg|
|Sweet potato, baked with skin||286 mg|
|Ice cream, low fat 1 cup||176 mg|
|TOTAL = 2027 mg|