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Women's Health Topics..

 
You are here : home > Women's Health > Osteoporosis > Are you Getting Enough Calcium?

Are you Getting Enough Calcium?


Inadequate intake of calcium is one of the main causes of osteoporosis in women. Here is how to add more calcium to your daily diet.


Osteoporosis is a disease of the bones that develops over time. This disease results in an increased risk of fracture. People suffering from osteoporosis are prone to fractures in situations where normal people would not break the same bone. Osteoporosis is caused due to reduced bone mineral density (BMD), leading to weakening of the bone structure.

Osteoporosis is perceived as being an old person's disease. This is because the risks of contracting the disease increase with age. A person with a family history of osteoporosis is almost eighty percent more likely to suffer from the disease.


The Importance of Calcium

Calcium is the mineral that is associated most closely with bones. It forms a major component of bones. Almost all the calcium in the human body is mainly concentrated in bones. Calcium is what makes bones strong and gives them their hardness. Calcium also plays a vital role in the clotting of blood as well as the normal functioning of nerves and muscles

According to the National Academy of Sciences, a woman needs 1300 mg of Calcium daily, when she is between nine and twenty three years of age. During adulthood, the calcium requirement is 1000 mg per day while after menopause, it is around 1200 mg per day.

The teenage years are the most important when it comes to calcium intake. This is because most of the bone building activity takes place at this age. This is also the age at which an individual experiences a growth spurt, causing the skeleton to grow as well. An adequate intake of calcium is necessary at this stage so that the skeleton can cope with the demands placed on it, in terms of elongating the respective bones involved in this growth.

After an individual has grown to her adult size, she still requires calcium as part of her daily diet. The bones of the body experience wear and tear due to the stress of physical activity placed on it. Calcium is used to repair the damage done to bone structure. Calcium required for the body's functions is usually obtained from the diet. If dietary intake of calcium is insufficient, the body uses the calcium from the bones to meet its requirements. This weakens the bone structure.


Calcium in the Diet

Genetic factors influencing osteoporosis cannot be changed. However, an individual can reduce her chances of getting osteoporosis simply by making sure she consumes the required amount of calcium every day. Dairy products are the best source of calcium. If you are lactose intolerant, do not worry. There are plenty of non-dairy alternatives, which you can consume. Besides, many commercially available foods are now fortified with calcium. In addition, you can even consume calcium supplements. Here are some of the calcium containing foods and the ways in which you can increase the calcium in your diet.

Food groupExamples
Dairy foodsMilk, yoghurt, cheese
Leafy green vegetablesSpinach, broccoli, kale
FruitsOranges
Beans and peasTofu, soya, peanuts, peas, black beans, baked beans
FishSardines, clams, shrimp, salmon
MiscellaneousFigs, sesame seeds, corn tortillas, almonds, brown sugar


Breakfast: Opt for a bowl of cereal with milk. This is the simplest breakfast to have as it does not involve any prior preparations. Another delicious and healthy breakfast choice is oatmeal. While preparing oatmeal porridge, use milk to dissolve it in, instead of water. Make yourself a breakfast smoothie by blending a cup of milk and some fresh fruits. Whenever possible, add cheese to your breakfast diet. Even if you tend to skip breakfast, at least drink a glass of calcium fortified orange juice to meet your daily calcium requirements.

Lunch: Have a cup of curd along with your regular lunch. If you are eating a sandwich, add some cheese to it. Substitute your lunchtime soft drink with a glass of milk. If you are not fond of plain milk, opt for a chocolate or strawberry flavoured milk drink instead. A fish sandwich contains fewer calories and provides much needed calcium.

Go for calcium containing snacks as well. Most commercially available energy bars are fortified with calcium. A cup of hot cocoa, containing milk, serves as a source of calcium and chases away tiredness as well. Another snack option is to dip bread sticks in a tasty yoghurt dip.

Dinner: Prepare your evening bowl of soup with milk instead of water. This will also make your soup creamier and give it a thicker consistency. Leguminous foods like beans, soya, and tofu are also good sources of calcium. Opt for a serving of green vegetables, at least every alternate day. For dessert, try a milk-based pudding. Even ice cream is a good source of calcium since it is made of milk.


Calcium is available in a variety of foods. Experiment with your diet to see just how much calcium you can add to it. You will develop strong bones that can withstand great stress.

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Discussion Forum - Recent Posts
Do you feel you are getting enough calcium everyday? Is dietary calcium enough or do you have to take additional calcium supplements?
Adhik
Why are all your suggestions milk-based? I hate milk. I never had it when I was a child and I still don' t like milk. Especially with cream floating on top. Bleah! I' d rather take calcium supplements...
Neeta
Why do you have to be so juvenile? There is nothing wrong with milk and it is good for you. You eat ice cream don' t you? Why can' t you just try out some other milk products and see if you like it. U...
Kiran
Hi. I am lactose intolerant. So far I have not been taking any calcium supplements but my doctor has now prescribed them for me. Are these calcium fortified foods available in the market or do I need ...
view more >>
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