July 12, 2007

Quick Tricks: Getting Enough Calcium/Preventing Osteoporosis

According to current estimates, 90% of adult females and 78% of adult males in the United States are not meeting their daily calcium requirement.

Depending on your age and gender, you should get anywhere from 1,000 to 1,300 milligrams of this VIP mineral every day.

From the ages of 9 to 18, calcium intake should be at approximately 1,300 milligrams.

From 18 to 50, it lowers slightly to 1,000 milligrams.

After age 51, males and females should aim for at least 1,300 milligrams, although 1,500 milligrams are recommended.

Here are some ways to sneak more calcium into your day -- and prevent it from leaching out:

  • Include steamed or sautéed greens in your diet. One cup of collard greens provides 360 milligrams, while the same amount of spinach contributes 245.
  • Make quinoa one of your staple grains. One cup of this Incan wonder grain contains 106 milligrams of calcium.
  • Potassium helps prevent calcium loss, so be sure to have two of the following foods every day: oranges, bananas, avocados, raisins, wheat germ, potatoes, tomatoes, and sweet potatoes.
  • Watch your protein intake. Excess protein results in the excretion of calcium from our bones. To find out how much protein your body requires, take your weight in pounds and divide it by 2.2. Then, multiply that number by .8. Your protein intake should not exceed 200% of this value.
  • Cut back on caffeine. High levels of caffeine are also responsible for leaching calcium out of our bones. Aim for no more than two eight-ounce cups of coffee a day.
  • Grin and bear it. Weight-bearing exercises help maintain bone density and slow down bone loss.
  • If you drink milk, aim for 2 servings a day. Hate it by itself? Add it to your coffee, or have milk-based smoothies.
  • Limit your intake of sodas. The phosphoric acid in them leeches calcium from your bones. And, yes, this applies to dark AND light sodas.
  • Know your sources. The following foods are calcium all-stars: non-fat yogurt, non-fat milk, fortified cereals, fortified orange juice, fortified soymilk, and almonds.

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