Calcium is very important in preventing osteoporosis (a disease in which bones become more fragile and more likely to break). It is estimated that 10 million Americans over the age of 50 have osteoporosis, and 34 million have low bone mass. National surveys show that Americans do not consume enough calcium.
Sources of calcium
* Non-fat / low-fat dairy products (such as milk, soy milk, yogurt, and cheese)
* Leafy vegetables (such as broccoli, greens, Chinese cabbage, and kale)
* Canned salmon with bones, sardines, and shellfish
* Almonds and Brazil nuts
* Calcium-fortified foods (such as fruit juices, cereals, breads, and soy products)
Notice that if you are a vegetarian and do not consume dairy products, or you are lactose-intolerant, it is possible to obtain your minimum daily calcium requirements from foods other than dairy products. You many also want to consider taking a calcium supplement.
How much calcium do you need?
0-6 months old – 210 mg/day
6-12 months old – 270 mg/day
1-3 years old – 500 mg/day
4-8 years old – 800 mg/day
9-18 years old – 1300 mg/day
18-50 years old – 1000 mg/day
51-70 years old – 1200 mg/day
Over 70 years old – 1200 mg/day
How much calcium is in our food?
To determine how much calcium is in a food item, read the food label. Remember that the amount shown is for one portion (serving size).
Following are some examples:
Milk (low fat 1 cup) and soy milk – 300 mg
Broccoli (1 cup cooked) – 94 mg
Yogurt (low fat fruit flavored) – 172 mg
Spinach (1/2 cup fresh boiled) – 125 mg
Almonds (dry, roasted) – 75 mg
**United States Department of Health & Human Services (The 2004 Surgeon General's Report on Bone Health and Osteoporosis)
**National Osteoporosis Foundation
Corinne is a degreed nutritionist and award-winning writer. Visit her web site at www.thefoodcop.com.