Posted on Dec 6, 2018

How Much Calcium Do I Need?

This is a common question with an easy answer, a quick Google search will give you the following information fairly quickly.

 

 

Children

 

  • 0 to 6 months: 200 milligrams (mg) per day
  • 7 months to 1 year: 260 mg
  • 1 to 3 years: 700 mg
  • 4 to 8 years: 1,000 mg
  • 9 to 18 years: 1,300 mg

 

Adults

 

  • Women 19 to 50 years and men 19 to 70 years: 1,000 mg
  • Women 51 years and older and men 71 years and older: 1,200 mg
  • Pregnant and breastfeeding women under age 19: 1,300 mg
  • Pregnant and breastfeeding women over age 19: 1,000 mg

 

What is hard to know is how much are you getting from your diet. Most of us go through life just eating our 3 square meals a day and some healthy snack in-between. At least I hope the snacks are healthy! But we never think, how much calcium is in that Banana, how much calcium is in my chicken salad and how much calcium is in my Mars Bar. Spoiler alert… not much. So what can we do?

 

Let’s take a look at what foods tend to be high is calcium

 

milk and Milk Products

  • Milk, yogurt, cheese and buttermilk. One cup of milk, a 200 g tub of yogurt or 200 ml of calcium-fortified soymilk provides around 300 mg calcium. Calcium-fortified milks can provide larger amounts of calcium in a smaller volume of milk – ranging from 280 mg to 400 mg per 200 ml milk.

Leafy Green Vegetables

  • Broccoli, collards (cabbage family), bok choy, Chinese cabbage and spinach. One cup of cooked spinach contains 100 mg, although only five per cent of this may be absorbed. This is due to the high concentration of oxalate, a compound in spinach that reduces calcium absorption. By contrast, one cup of cooked broccoli contains about 45 mg of calcium, but the absorption from broccoli is much higher at around 50–60 per cent.

Soy and Tofu

  • Tofu (depending on type) or tempeh and calcium fortified soy drinks

Fish

  • Sardines and salmon (with bones). Half a cup of canned salmon contains 402 mg of calcium

Nuts and Seeds

  • Brazil nuts, almonds and sesame seed paste (tahini). Fifteen almonds contain about 40 mg of calcium.

Calcium-fortified foods

  • Including breakfast cereals, fruit juices and bread. One cup of calcium-fortified breakfast cereal (40 g) contains up to 200 mg of calcium. ½ cup of calcium-fortified orange juice (100 ml) contains up to 80 mg of calcium, and two slices of bread (30 g) provides 200 mg of calcium.

 

Not everyone can eat everything on this menu but start with what you can stomach and do the best you can. Certainly you can eat more Broccoli, unless you are under the age of 10.

 

Can I take too much calcium?

 

Unless you are taking too many supplements it is very hard to “overdose” on calcium from food alone. The number of calories you would have to consume would make it almost impossible to over do the calcium, many more problems would creep up on you first. However, there are some guideline to follow when trying to get the right amount of calcium.

 

The recommended upper limits for calcium intake is 2,500 mg per day for adults up to age 50 and 2,000 mg per day for adults over 50.

 

What can I do to get more calcium?

 

There are many ways to get more calcium, such as

 

  • Choose milk instead of soda at restaurants or school cafeterias.
  • Boost the calcium in salads with beans (such as garbanzo or kidney), cheese, broccoli, almonds,seeds or tofu.
  • Choose yogurt as a light meal or snack.
  • Create special drinks with low-fat milk. Add flavorings. Make shakes or smoothies with low-fat dairy products.
  • Use yogurt on its own or with fresh fruit. Add it to shakes, salad dressings, dips, and sauces or use it to top pancakes or waffles.
  • Try calcium-fortified juice and calcium-fortified waffles or cereal for breakfast.

 

Make trade-offs in your food choices. For example, if you go for a thick, chocolate milk shake, skip the French fries… and maybe the burger too.

 

Who Should Take Calcium Supplements?

 

When your calcium intake is insufficient, your body will remove calcium from your bones, making them weak and brittle. This can result in  osteoporosis . Since women are at a higher risk of osteoporosis, many doctors recommend that they take calcium supplements, especially after reaching menopause. Because of this, older women are much more likely to need a good calcium supplement. Humm… I wonder where to get the best calcium on the Internet today? If you don’t get the recommended amount through your diet, supplements can help fill the gap.

 

You might also consider calcium supplements if you:

 

  • Follow a vegan diet.
  • Have a high-protein or high-sodium diet, which may cause your body to excrete more calcium.
  • Have a health condition that limits your body’s ability to absorb calcium, such as Crohn’s disease or inflammatory bowel disease.
  • Are being treated with corticosteroids over a long period of time.
  • Have osteoporosis.

 

Calcium is important, I think we all know that. Now that you know how much you should be getting and some great places to get rich sources of calcium, you are in a better place to take your health in the right direction.

 

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