Get More Calcium In Your Diet- Calcium is a must-have mineral the body needs to produce strong bones and teeth as well as maintain healthy metabolic functions. Without enough calcium in the diet, a person’s bones start to break down. As a result, they are at greater risk for broken bones and other painful injuries.
The Institute of Medicine of the National Academies recommends that adults ages 19 to 50 get about 1,000 milligrams (mg) of calcium per day. Men ages 51 to 70 need the same amount, while women this age need about 1,200 mg. Both men and women older than age 71 need 1,200 mg of calcium per day.
If a person isn’t getting enough calcium in their daily diet, the traditional recommendation is to increase their calcium intake by eating more dairy products. It’s true that foods like milk, cheese, and yogurt are all high in calcium. However, some people are allergic to dairy or choose not to eat dairy as part of their lifestyle. In this case, they need other nutritional options to ensure they can get enough calcium in their daily diets.
Non-Dairy Calcium Sources
Many foods exist that have calcium naturally, but aren’t dairy. According to the National Institute of Health’s Office of Dietary Supplements, these include:
- Canned sardines: 325 mg
- Salmon, pink and canned (3 ounces): 253 mg
- Turnip greens (boiled, 1/2 cup): 99 mg
- Kale (1 cup): 94 mg
- Chinese cabbage (bok choi, 1 cup): 74 mg
- Bread (white, 1 slice): 73 mg
In addition to foods that naturally have calcium, food manufacturers will often add or fortify foods with calcium. This increases a person’s intake without them having to take a supplement. Examples of calcium-fortified foods include:
- Soymilk (calcium-fortified): 299 mg
- Orange juice (calcium-fortified): 261 mg
- Tofu, made with calcium sulfate: 138 mg
Many types of ready-to-eat cereal also have calcium added, sometimes as much as the daily recommended intake for calcium.
If a person has difficulty incorporating the foods above into their daily diet, there are still options in the form of supplements. Also known as vitamins, these supplements help a person increase their calcium intake. Calcium supplements are typically available in two forms: calcium carbonate or calcium citrate.
Calcium carbonate tends to be the cheaper form of calcium. This supplement type requires stomach acid to be most effective. Therefore, a person should take the supplement with food. However, some people do report stomach upset with calcium carbonate.
Calcium citrate does not require stomach acid for absorption. Therefore, a person can take it with or without food. This calcium supplement type is a better option for those who have an intestinal condition, such as inflammatory bowel disorder, or who have difficulty absorbing nutrients.
Regardless of the calcium option chosen, people tend to absorb calcium better in doses of 500 mg or less. As a result, a person may wish to space out their dosages to get the most effectiveness out of them.
Conclusions on Calcium Intake
Signs a person may not be getting enough calcium in their daily diet include muscle cramping, appetite loss, fatigue, and numbness and tingling in the fingers. Some people may also experience unusual or irregular heart rhythms. They may also experience easier bone breakages. However, doctors consider this a later sign of calcium deficiency.
Whether a person chooses to use supplements or whole foods, it’s important to make an effort to get plenty of calcium in their daily diets to maintain strong bones and a healthy body.
National Institute of Health Office of Dietary Supplements. (2016, November 17). https://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/Calcium-HealthProfessional/
U.S. National Library of Medicine. (2018, February 7). Calcium in Diet. https://medlineplus.gov/ency/article/002412.htm
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