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Calcium / Calcium Deficiency Symptoms / Calcium Rich Foods and Supplements

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The Importance of Calcium
Calcium is needed for our heart, muscles, and nerves to function properly and for our blood to be able to clot. Inadequate calcium significantly contributes to the development of osteoporosis. Many published studies show that low calcium intake throughout life is associated with low bone mass and high fracture rates. National nutrition surveys have shown that most people are not getting the calcium they need to grow and maintain healthy bones.
 
THE ROLE OF CALCIUM
Calcium is needed for our heart, muscles, and nerves to function properly and for blood to clot. Inadequate calcium significantly contributes to the development of osteoporosis. Many published studies show that low calcium intake throughout life is associated with low bone mass and high fracture rates. National nutrition surveys have shown that most people are not getting the calcium they need to grow and maintain healthy bones.
 
Main function of Calcium - Calcium is required for bone mineralization (bones & teeth), muscle contraction (heart), nerve transmission, and blood clotting. Used to treat osteoporosis, osteopenia and hypocalcemia.
 
You have more calcium in your body than any other mineral. Calcium has many important jobs. The body stores more than 99 percent of its calcium in the bones and teeth to help make and keep them strong. The rest is throughout the body in blood, muscle and the fluid between cells. It is important to get plenty of calcium in the foods you eat.
 
Calcium Rich Foods include:
Low fat dairy products such as milk, cheese and yogurt, and leafy, green vegetables.
 
The exact amount of calcium you need depends on your age and other factors:
Growing children and teenagers need more calcium than young adults.
Older women need plenty of calcium to prevent osteoporosis.
People who do not eat enough high-calcium foods should take a calcium supplement.
National Institutes of Health Office of Dietary Supplements
 
Milk and Calcium
  • Low-fat or fat-free milk is a great source of calcium because:
  • Milk contains a lot of calcium in a form that the body can easily absorb.
  • Milk has other important nutrients that are good for bones and teeth. One especially important nutrient is vitamin D, which helps the body absorb more calcium.
  • Milk is widely available and is already a part of many people's diets.
 
CALCIUM-RICH FOODS
Food Item Serving Size Calcium (mg) Fat (g) Calories
Milk        
Whole 8 oz 290 8.9 156
1% milk 8 oz 300 2.6 102
2% milk 8 oz 297 4.7 121
Skim milk 8 oz 302 0.4 86
Yogurt        
Plain fat-free (with added milk solids) 8 oz 487 0.4 136
Plain low-fat (with added milk solids) 8 oz 447 3.7 155
Fruit, low-fat 8 oz 338 2.8 243
Frozen, vanilla, soft serve 1/2 cup 103 4.0 114
Cheese        
American cheese 1 oz 174 8.9 106
Cheddar cheese 1 oz 204 9.4 114
Cottage cheese, 1% low-fat 1 cup 138 2.3 164
Mozzarella cheese, part skim 1 oz 183 4.5 72
Muenster cheese 1 oz 203 8.5 104
Parmesan cheese, grated 1 tbsp 69 1.5 23
Ricotta cheese, part skim 1/2 cup 337 9.8 171
Ricotta cheese, whole milk 1/2 cup 257 16.1 216
Ice Cream, Vanilla        
Low-fat 1/2 cup 91.7 2.8 91.7
High-fat 1/2 cup 86.6 12 178
Fish and Shellfish        
Sardines, canned in oil, drained, including bones 3.75 oz 351 10.5 191
Salmon, pink, canned, including bones 3 oz 181 5.1 118
Shrimp, canned, drained 3 oz 50 1.7 102
Vegetables        
Bok Choy, raw (Chinese cabbage) 1 cup 74 0 9
Broccoli, cooked, drained from raw 1 cup 71.6 0.6 23.6
Broccoli, cooked, drained, from frozen 1 cup 94 0.2 50
Soybeans, mature, boiled 1 cup 261 12 254
Collards, cooked, drained, from raw 1 cup 226 0.6 49
Turnip greens, cooked, drained, from raw (leaves and stems) 1 cup 197 0.3 29
         
Tofu 1/2 cup 204* 5.6 97
Orange (navel) 1 whole 56 0.1 65
Orange Juice, fortified with calcium 8 oz 300 0.1 100
Dried figs 10 270 2.2 477
Almonds (dry roasted) 1 oz 75 15 169
Sesame seeds, kernels, toasted 1 oz 37 13.6 161
Sunflower seeds, dried 1 oz 33 14.1 162
* The calcium content of tofu may vary depending on processing methods. Tofu pro
 
* Tolerable upper intake levels (UL), to caution against excessive intake of nutrients (like vitamin D) that can be harmful in large amounts.
The RDA is used to determine the Recommended Daily Value (RDV) which is printed on food labels in the U.S. and Canada.
 
CALCIUM CULPRITS – CALCIUM DEFICIENCY
While a balanced diet aids calcium absorption, high levels of protein and sodium (salt) in the diet are thought to increase calcium excretion through the kidneys. Excessive amounts of these substances should be avoided, especially in those whose calcium intake is low.
 
Lactose intolerance also can lead to inadequate calcium intake. Those who are lactose intolerant have insufficient amounts of the enzyme lactase, which is needed to break down the lactose found in dairy products. In order to include dairy products in the diet, dairy foods can be taken in small quantities or treated with lactase drops, or lactase can be taken as a pill. There are even some milk products on the market that already have been treated with lactase.
 
CALCIUM DEFICIENCY SYMPTOMS
While there are no overt symptoms that can be attributed exclusively to calcium deficiency, research has shown that calcium deficiency can result in or cause certain conditions that may result in poor health. NutritionVista recommends every effort be made to include adequate amounts of fresh green leafy vegetables and low fat dairy products to ensure adequate intake of not just calcium but vitamin D and phosphorous. Additionally getting adequate exposure to fresh air and sunlight each week, will ensure absorption of Vitamin D.
 
Myth - White spots on the fingernails are a sign of calcium deficiency. They are not.
 
Rickets are the softening and weakening of bones in children, which may be the result of extreme vitamin D deficiency, which in turn makes it difficult to maintain proper calcium and phosphorus levels in bones.
 
Osteoporosis, meaning "porous bones," is when bones become weak and brittle that even mild stresses like bending over, lifting a vacuum cleaner or coughing can cause a fracture. In most cases, bones weaken when you have low levels of calcium, phosphorus and other minerals in your bones.
 
BEST CALCIUM SUPPLEMENTS
If you have trouble getting enough calcium in your diet, you may need to take a calcium supplement. The amount of calcium you will need from a supplement depends on how much calcium you obtain from food sources. There are several different calcium compounds from which to choose, such as calcium carbonate and calcium citrate, among others. Except in people with gastrointestinal disease, all major forms of calcium supplements are absorbed equally well when taken with food.
 
Calcium supplements are better absorbed when taken in small doses (500 mg or less) several times throughout the day. In many individuals, calcium supplements are better absorbed when taken with food.
 
RDA INDIAN: Men and women: 400mg
         US: Men and Women: 1000-1200mg (from foods and supplements)
UL* 2500 mg
 
Potential side effects of excessive consumption of calcium
Decreased absorption of other minerals such as iron, zinc, and manganese if taken at the same time.
Constipation is an early sign of overdosing. Overdosing can cause calcification of soft tissues such as the heart and kidneys
 
Calcium brand names in India: Shelcal, Supracal USA: Citracal, Tums
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