Most of our bone mass is acquired during childhood and adolescence and is completely done forming by the age of 18. It is very important to have adequate calcium during the the young years of high growth in order to have a better outlook for bone health in the future. If there is insufficient calcium deposited in bones during childhood, the bones may become weak later in life and could increase the probability of osteoporosis. As we know, fragile bones can easily fracture or break especially in vulnerable areas such as the hip, spine and wrist.
How Much Calcium is Enough?
According to the American Dietetic Association, women need 1,000 milligrams of calcium a day for healthy bones. After age 50, a woman’s calcium needs increase to 1,200 milligrams a day. Converting milligrams needed to serving sizes is the best way to help identify the calcium-rich foods that are required.
Women need at least three servings a day of these calcium rich foods and a serving of calcium is equivalent to:
- 1 cup low-fat or fat-free milk
- 1 cup low-fat or fat-free yogurt
- 1 ounce low-fat or fat-free cheese
- 1.5 cups cooked soybeans
- 1 cup calcium fortified orange juice
- 3 oz canned sardines with bones
Other types of food that have high calcium content include:
- fortified breakfast cereals
- white beans
How Does Vitamin D Help with Calcium Absorption?
Aging bodies have a harder time absorbing calcium and it is important to add vitamin D to your diet which helps calcium absorption. Vitamin D is difficult to get from dietary sources so it’s a good idea to get a Vitamin D blood test to see if the body has sufficient vitamin D to help with calcium absorption. There are vitamin D supplements that can help with the daily recommended amount of vitamin D: 400-800 IU for younger women. Older women, above 50, need increased amounts and it is recommended to have 800-1000 IU per day.
Many women undergo a bone density test in their 40s. This will establish a baseline of the bone density and the test can be repeated, as necessary, to assess bone density throughout the later years. Besides calcium and vitamin D there are other ways to keep the bones strong:
- conducting weight bearing exercises
- participating in strength training exercises
- avoiding smoking and minimizing drinking alcohol
Take Control of Your Health!