Here are the best ways to get enough calcium for strong bones and more
- 2 Minutes Read
You know calcium is essential for bone health, but what are the best ways to get enough? Learn the best calcium sources and how to maximize absorption.
The most abundant mineral in your body, calcium can be easily overlooked when paying attention to calories, protein, and other more talked-about nutrients.
Calcium, along with vitamin D, helps maintain strong bones. But did you know this mineral is essential for nerve and muscle function? Your heart can't beat without calcium. Getting enough calcium may also help manage PMS symptoms, reduce colorectal cancer risk, and lower blood pressure.
Calcium is so crucial that your body keeps blood calcium levels within a narrow range. Without enough calcium from the diet, your body will rob calcium from your bones to maintain steady blood levels. For this reason, a blood test won't tell you if you are getting enough calcium from your diet. Knowing the best ways to get calcium and adjusting your diet (or adding supplements if needed) will help protect your bones.
The Recommended Dietary Allowance for calcium is based on age and sex.
|Age 19-50||Age 51-70||Age 71+|
|Men||1000 mg||1000 mg||1200 mg|
|Women||1000 mg||1200 mg||1200 mg|
The daily tolerable upper intake level (UL) is 2500 mg for people 19-50 years old and 2000 mg for 51 years old and older.
Two servings of calcium-rich foods (such as an eight-ounce glass of milk and a six-ounce carton of yogurt), plus calcium found in smaller amounts from other foods, will bring your total close to 1000 mg.
Fortunately, there's no need to guess how much calcium you are getting! MyNetDiary makes it easy to track your daily calcium intake. In your Dashboard, select Configure Dashboard, and select calcium as the nutrient to display. MyNetDiary will even list your recent top calcium sources.
Food sources, versus supplements, are the best way to get calcium. Calcium-rich foods come with other valuable nutrients, and it is hard to get excess calcium from foods. Milk, yogurt, and cheese are major sources of calcium. If you don't eat dairy products, opt for fortified plant milks, tofu made with calcium, and fortified juices as reliable sources.
|Food||Serving Size||Calcium (mg)|
|Almond milk, fortified||8 fl ounces||450|
|Yogurt, plain, low-fat||8 fl ounces||448|
|Tofu made with calcium sulfate||1/2 cup||434|
|Orange juice, calcium-fortified||8 fl ounces||345|
|Milk, 1%||8 fl ounces||305|
|Swiss Cheese||1 ounce||254|
|Salmon, canned with bones||3 ounces||241|
|Broccoli, raw||1 cup||43|
You may need a supplement if your diet falls short of meeting your calcium goal. Make sure you only fill in your "calcium gap." For example, if your average daily diet provides 600 mg calcium, you would only need to add 400 mg calcium from a supplement to reach your RDA of 1000 mg. Calcium above your RDA will not give you stronger bones.
High doses of calcium from supplements may increase kidney stone risk (ironically, calcium from food sources is considered protective). Some studies have shown a connection between calcium supplements and heart disease, yet there is no evidence of such risk from food sources of calcium.
Calcium can reduce iron absorption. If you take an iron supplement, take it about two hours apart from your calcium supplement. Calcium supplements may also cause mild constipation and bloating.
Calcium carbonate (e.g., Tums, OsCal, Caltrate) and calcium citrate (e.g., Citracal) are the most common forms of calcium supplements. Calcium carbonate requires stomach acid present for absorption, so it's best to take these supplements with a meal. Calcium carbonate isn't your best supplement option if you take a stomach acid-reducing medication such as Prilosec or Pepcid, as it won't absorb as well. Calcium citrate does not need stomach acidity for absorption, meaning you can take it with or without food. Calcium citrate is also less likely to cause digestive symptoms.
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