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Get That Milk Out of the Freezer and Into Our Bodies!

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As I stare into my 104-year-old grandma’s freezer, a few things look bleakly back at me. I see a tin of old Christmas cookies, circa 1999, a box of baking soda, something that I do not want to investigate wrapped in aluminum foil, and three gallons of milk. (Although now through some research, I realize that lots of folks freeze their milk. I had just never heard of it until I saw it in my grandma’s freezer. I am not a milk drinker.)

Now, while the crux of this article is not about the proper storage of milk, I did want to point out that the revelation in that freezer begged me to ask the question of my grandmother, “Are you getting enough calcium?” To which she replied, “Well, I don’t like milk, so I have to take my doctor-recommended supplements.”

Hmmmm…she does not like milk but has a few gallons frozen in the freezer. She explained this one by noting that some folks give her the milk and she hates to decline, so she puts it in the freezer to provide for guests in the future.

“Grandma,” I said. “Did you know that the expiration dates on these milk jugs are from over three years ago? It is not a good idea to freeze milk over three months.”

She did not care. She freezes everything, including money! The whole issue of her strong dislike of milk, which eerily parallels mine, led me to inquire how we can get enough calcium (and vitamin D!) to contribute to our bone health.

Calcium is necessary to ensure that our bones and teeth stay strong and healthy. It also assists muscles and nerves to work properly. Calcium truly is a hard-working mineral, as it can also help with weight management, blood pressure, and may even play a role in preventing colon cancer. Vitamin D takes the stage with calcium to help you absorb and effectively use the calcium.

The recommended daily calcium intake for individuals between the ages of 1 and 50 is 1000 milligrams per day. If you are over 50, you need to bump that up to 1200 mg per day. For vitamin D, up to 50 years of age, you need 200 International Units per day. From ages 51-70, you need 400 IU per day. After age 70, that goes up to 600 IU per day. Doctors may recommend daily increases in these guidelines if you are affected by osteoporosis.

Most people think they are getting enough calcium in their diets. However, the reverse is true. Many of us are calcium-deficient. The problem with that is when we are lacking in calcium, this mineral is essentially borrowed from our bones. The calcium is then returned to our bones only when we supplement it through our diets. This kind of puts us in a Catch-22 situation if we are not getting enough of the supplement in the first place.

So, if we are not regular consumers of milk, what are some great ways to incorporate calcium into our daily diet? According to calciuminfo.com, foods that are rich in calcium include dairy products and leafy green vegetables. It is also vital to get some vitamin D into your body.

One of the best, and easiest, ways to do this is to simply expose your skin to about ten minutes of sunlight each day. (I have to warn folks here that my grandma has had past tendencies to check out topless decks on cruise ships, even well into her 90s. I guess she can claim she is merely absorbing her daily quota of vitamin D! I would prefer she take a supplement rather than alarm people in this manner!) You can also consume vitamin D-fortified foods and even talk to your doctor about taking a vitamin D supplement.

What are some vitamin D-rich foods? If you enjoy fish products, you are in luck, as salmon, mackerel, tuna fish, and sardines all contain this vital supplement. You can also get this vitamin from eating ready-to-eat cereal fortified with 10 percent of the recommended daily intake of vitamin D. Enjoy an egg, liver, beef, or some Swiss cheese.

This article is merely a brief look into the role calcium and vitamin D play in our overall health. We will be exploring this in more detail in coming articles. This topic is huge right now, and I am among the many people who truly need to adhere to the daily recommended guidelines for this mineral and its vitamin companion.

While I maintain my weight and exercise frequently, I know I need to be far more vigilant in my body’s needs, especially since I am in my 40s now. One thing is for certain, I will not be attacking those frozen cookies in Grandma’s freezer any time soon. In fact, they are not just frozen, they are vintage. I wonder if I could sell them on eBay? I could then use that money to buy some calcium supplements!

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We value and respect our HERWriters' experiences, but everyone is different. Many of our writers are speaking from personal experience, and what's worked for them may not work for you. Their articles are not a substitute for medical advice, although we hope you can gain knowledge from their insight.


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