Are you getting enough calcium?

Click here to download the calcium intake test

Other Calcium Sources

Dried Beans – Legumes
Vegetarian baked beans (1 cup)
Garbanzo/Chickpeas (1 cup, canned)
Great northern beans (1 cup, boiled)
Navy beans (1 cup, boiled)
White beans (1 cup, boiled)
Black turtle beans (1 cup, boiled)
128 mg
80 mg
121 mg
128 mg
103 mg

Fruits & Vegetables
Broccoli (1 cup, boiled)
Green beans (1 cup, boiled)
Spinach (1 cup, boiled)
Butternut squash (1 cup, boiled)
Sweet potato (1 cup, boiled)
Collards (1 cup, boiled)
Mustard greens (1 cup, boiled)
Swiss chard (1 cup, boiled)
Figs, dried (10 medium)
Naval orange (1 medium)
 94 mg
58 mg
244 mg
84 mg
70 mg
358 mg
150 mg
102 mg
269 mg
56 mg

Cereal & Bread Products
Cereal bars – Calcium fortified (Kellogg’s Nutri-Grain Bar & Quaker Fruit & Oatmeal – 1 bar)
Corn bread (2-oz piece)
Oatmeal, instant (1 packet) Oatmeal,
Quaker Instant-Nutrition For Women (1 packet)
200 mg
133 mg
163 mg
350 mg

Soy Products
Soy milk – Calcium fortified (8 oz)
Soybeans (1 cup, boiled)
Tofu (1/2 cup packed in Calcium liquid)
350 mg
175 mg
258 mg

Calcium chews (such as Viactiv, etc.)
Tums – Calcium content varies
500 mg
500 mg
200-500 mg
500 mg

Vitamin D
Vitamin D is required for proper absorption of Calcium. The body will make its own Vitamin D if exposed to sunlight for at least 15 minutes per day. If you have little sun exposure or if you do not eat or drink dairy products, you should take a Vitamin D supplement of 1000 IU.

*Adapted from Foods That Fight Pain by Neal Barnard, MD

Protect Your Bones

The ideal diet for prevention or treatment of osteoporosis should provide enough Calcium, Magnesium, and Vitamin D. The best source for these important nutrients is from your diet because they are absorbed best in their natural form. Calcium is found mostly in dairy foods and in some fruits, vegetables, and legumes. Some tofu, soy milks, cereals, and orange juices are also fortified with Calcium. If the diet does not provide enough, a supplement should be taken. If a woman is postmenopausal and HRT (hormone replacement therapy) is not being taken, then 1,500 mg/day is required. If HRT is being taken, 1,200 mg/day is needed.

There is debate over which type of Calcium is best absorbed. It is believed that Calcium Citrate os better absorbed, especially in older women due to a decrease in stomach acids. There is some debate as to when is the best time to take a Calcium supplement. Most nutrition experts feel that Calcium Citrate (such as Citracal) is better absorbed on an empty stomach and Calcium Carbonate (Tums) is better absorbed with a meal. Either way, the dose should be spread out throughout the day. Calcium Carbonate is found in Tums and it is a form of antacid. Some experts believe that because antacids actually neutralize the stomach acids, the antacids may decrease absorption of Calcium.

Vitamin D is required for proper Calcium absorption. It is found in milk and various dairy products. The body also makes its own Vitamin D from sunlight exposure. As little as 15 minutes a day is enough, but sunlight exposure can increase your risk of skin cancer. Sunscreen does block the production of Vitamin D. If you have little sunlight exposure and do not drink milk, a Vitamin D supplement of 1,000 IU is recommended.

Magnesium is also important in the production of bone. It can be found in green leafy vegetables, soybeans, and legumes. Calcium to Magnesium ratio should be approximately 2:1. For every 1000 mg of Calcium, 500 mg of Magnesium is required. A supplement of 300-500 mg per day is recommended.
High protein diets, carbonated beverages, and highly processed foods have high quantities of Phosphorus. The ratio of Calcium to phosphorus in the diet should be approximately 2:1. If the diet is high in Phosphorus intake, reduce or eliminate regular and diet soda, check labels for Phosphorus, Potassium Phosphate, and Phosphoric acid. Try to replace some of the animal protein in your diet with vegetable protein.

A healthy diet consists of approximately 30% of calories from fat, but should not be too fat restricted as this decreases Vitamin D absorption. Other factors that decrease absorption of these nutrients are smoking, alcohol, and high caffeine intake.

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