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How can I meet my daily calcium needs?

Janis Jibrin, MS, RD
Nutrition & Dietetics
You need a lot of calcium, and while most American men meet their calcium needs, about 65 percent of American women aren't getting enough. This mineral helps normalize blood pressure, reduces colon cancer risk, builds bone when you're younger, and stems bone loss after age 30. It may also help you maintain a healthy weight, although the scientific jury isn't out on that yet. Here's how much you need; I'll show you how to reach these levels through diet, and if necessary, supplements. Males and females age 19 - 50: 1,000 milligrams (mg) Males and females age 51 and up: 1,200 mg. Because high calcium foods are also highly nutritious, try and get the bulk of your calcium through your diet, leaning on supplements when necessary. Here;s how to get 1,000 mg daily, mainly through food: Every day, have at least two servings of the highest calcium sources: milk, plain yogurt, or calcium-enriched soymilk. That covers you for at least 600 mg of calcium On days you skip a calcium or soymilk serving, have a 300 to 500 mg calcium supplement for every serving you missed. Calcium carbonate and calcium citrate are good choices; take with a meal for better absorption. Take a multivitamin/mineral tablet providing 200 mg calcium and you're up to 800 mg daily. Eat a well-rounded, healthy diet for another 200 mg or more. There's calcium sprinkled throughout vegetables such as spinach and broccoli, and in whole grains and some baked products. Vegetarian sources are not always as readily absorbed as the calcium in milk and soymilk, but they still contribute. Where the Calcium Is To reach your daily calcium quota, eat at least two of these calcium-rich foods. Each serving is about 100 calories and offers 300 to 350 mg calcium. A note about cheese: Some, such as cheddar, jack, Swiss, gruyere and provolone, are very calcium-rich but also high in artery-clogging saturated fat. The reduced-fat choices have about half the saturated fat levels, but are still higher than the other choices listed below. So, if you eat a reduced fat cheese, make sure that the rest of your day is low in saturated fat:
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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.