CALCIUM AND DAIRY PRODUCTS
Many foods contain calcium, but dairy products are the best source. Milk and dairy products such as yogurt, cheeses, and buttermilk contain a form of calcium that your body can absorb easily.
Whole milk (4% fat) is recommended for children ages 1 to 2. Adults and children over the age of 2 should drink low-fat (2% or 1%) or skim milk and other dairy products. Removing the fat will not lower the amount of calcium in a dairy product.
- Yogurt, most cheeses, and buttermilk are excellent sources of calcium and come in low-fat or fat-free versions.
- Milk is also a good source of phosphorus and magnesium, which help the body absorb and use calcium.
- Vitamin D is needed to help the body use calcium. Milk is fortified with vitamin D for this reason.
OTHER SOURCES OF CALCIUM
Green leafy vegetables such as broccoli, collards, kale, mustard greens, turnip greens, and bok choy or Chinese cabbage are good sources of calcium.
Other sources of calcium that can help meet your body's calcium needs:
- Salmon and sardines canned with their soft bones
- Almonds, Brazil nuts, sunflower seeds, tahini, and dried beans
- Blackstrap molasses
Calcium is added to several food products, such as orange juice, soy milk, tofu, ready-to-eat cereals, and breads. These are a very good source of calcium for persons who do not eat a lot of dairy products or who are on a vegan diet.
Ways to make sure you receive or absorb the calcium in your diet:
- Cook foods in a small amount of water for the shortest possible time to keep more calcium in the foods you eat.
- Be careful about what you eat with calcium-rich foods. Certain fibers, such as wheat bran and foods with oxalic acid (spinach and rhubarb) can bind with calcium and prevent it from being absorbed.
Calcium is also found in many multivitamin-mineral supplements. The amount varies depending on the. supplement. Dietary supplements may contain only calcium or calcium with other nutrients such as vitamin D. Check the label on the Supplement Facts panel to determine the amount of calcium. Calcium absorption is best when taken in amounts of no more than 500 mg at a time.
Two commonly available forms of calcium dietary supplements include citrate and carbonate.
- Calcium citrate is the more expensive form of the supplement. It is taken up well by the body on a full or empty stomach.
- Calcium carbonate is less expensive. It is absorbed better by the body if taken with food. Calcium carbonate is found in over-the-counter antacid products such as Rolaids or Tums. Each chew or pill usually provides 200-400 mg of calcium. Check the label for the exact amount.
Other types of calcium in supplements and foods include lactate, gluconate, and phosphate.