Q.  Are you getting enough Calcium? 

A.  Work horse for more than strong bones!

Calcium is an essential nutrient. Essential nutrients are nutrients our bodies need to function normally but are unable to produce them. As most of us know, calcium is a major component of bones and teeth, but what most don’t realize it that helps with blood clotting and plays a role in normal functioning nerves, muscles and heart. Calcium even plays a role in keeping blood pressure under control.

As women, making sure we get enough calcium is important in preventing osteoporosis (thinning of the bones).

Bone loss is of special concern to women who are taking aromatase inhibitors to treat breast cancer. Calcium can help prevent the weakening of bones that occurs with certain chemotherapy medications. Some studies suggest calcium may help reduce the risk of certain cancers.

Since our body does not “make” calcium it’s essential we meet our needs via our diet. Calcium is most commonly found in milk, yogurt, cheese, and dark green vegetables. It also is found in certain grains, legumes (including peas, beans, lentils, and peanuts), and nuts.

Calcium needs: Female Age 19-50 = 1,000 mg per day, Age 51-70 = 1,200 mg per day.

If you don’t get enough calcium via your diet you may consider taking a calcium supplement. The best sources of calcium are calcium carbonate or calcium citrate. Calcium citrate should be taken with food and calcium carbonate can be taken any time. Calcium is sold in 500-600 mg dosage and should be taken twice per day. If you take a multivitamin with iron, it is recommended not to take calcium supplements at the same time.

Calcium needs can easily be met with the food you eat. One cup of milk has 300mg, one cup of yogurt 350mg. and one ounce of cheese has 200mg. If you don’t tolerate dairy, no worries, there are many plant based foods that provide a good amount of calcium.

Plant Food                                   Amount                                     Calcium (mg)

Broccoli1 cup180
Kale1 cup266
White Beans1 cup161
Arugula1 cup125
Spinach, cooked1 cup240
Dried Figs8 whole107
Collards, cooked1 cup220
Black Beans1 cup102