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Top Five Sources of Calcium

Kale (timstackton | flickr)

Just last month, the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism included an article on the daily use of calcium supplements and the affects it may have on the risk of death for women.  The report stated “daily use of calcium supplements was associated with a lower risk of death among women.” Researchers went on to further state, “each 500 mg increase in total calcium intake was associated with a 5 percent reduction in the risk of dying from any cause during the follow-up period among women but not men.”

Calcium, the most abundant mineral in the body, is found in some foods, added to others, available as a dietary supplement, and present in some medicines (such as antacids). Calcium is required for vascular contraction and vasodilation, muscle function, nerve transmission, intracellular signaling and hormonal secretion, though less than 1% of total body calcium is needed to support these critical metabolic functions. Serum calcium is very tightly regulated and does not fluctuate with changes in dietary intakes; the body uses bone tissue as both a reservoir for and source of calcium in order to maintain constant concentrations of calcium in blood, muscle, and intercellular fluids. The remaining 99% of the body’s calcium supply is stored in the bones and teeth where it supports their structure and function.

The research study out of Canada used data on 6,287 women and 2746 men who participated in the Canadian Multicentre Osteoporosis Study that enrolled a total of 9,423 men and women from 1995-1997. The questionnaires used provided data on intake of calcium and vitamin D from food and supplements. For women who used calcium supplements alone, the risk of premature mortality was 21% lower, and for those women who combined calcium with Vitamin D, the risk was 23% lower in comparison with those who used neither supplement. There is evidence that men should keep their supplemental calcium intake below 500 mg to reduce risk of certain disease processes.

In their conclusion, researchers said i, “Our recommendation would be to assess dietary intake to meet calcium and Vitamin D requirements for bone health and to consider supplementation as necessary to meet dietary requirements.”

Keep in mind that if you decide to take calcium, or any other supplement, I urge you to see your personal physician first to ensure it is safe for you. It is recommended that most adults need a range of 1,000 – 1,300 mg per day, but your physician will provide dosage based on your age and health status. Calcium is also found in many of the foods you eat.

My top five sources are:

  1. Yogurt Plain, low fat, 8oz. – 415 mg
  2. Mozzarella, part skim, 1.5 oz. – 333mg
  3. Sardines, canned in oil (bones), 3oz. – 325mg
  4. Kale, raw, chopped, 1 cup – 100 mg
  5. O.J., calcium fortified, 6oz. – 261mg