Get more daily calcium

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Cheryle Jones Syracuse
Family and Consumer Science Staff
NC Cooperative Extension
Brunswick County Center
Calcium is an important mineral for people of all ages. It helps build stronger, denser bones early in life and to keep bones strong and healthy later in life. Most Americans can use more calcium in their diet.
We all know calcium is found in milk products, but to aid in the quest to get more calcium, many popular foods and drinks are now fortified with calcium.
One unlikely source is orange juice. This is an easy way for many people to get calcium and other nutrients, as it’s a quick start to the day at breakfast, especially for people who don’t like milk. But, you may ask: How absorbable is calcium found in orange juice?
Generally, a human body can readily absorb calcium from fortified orange juice as much as it can from most sources. Nutrition textbooks say about 20-40 percent of the calcium adults consume isn’t absorbed. Calcium for dairy products is considered among the most absorbable.
Overall, most nutrition experts will tell you to simply focus on getting more calcium from a variety of sources and you’ll be better off. It is normally considered better to get it from foods rather than supplements, but if you don’t get enough calcium from food, the National Osteoporosis Foundation recommends talking with your health care provider about taking supplements.
The amount of calcium needed from a supplement depends on the amount of calcium you get from foods. Taking more calcium than you need in supplements does not have added benefits and can even have some risks. You shouldn’t take supplements you don’t need.
To see how much calcium you are getting in the foods you eat, go to the “Nutrition Facts” labels on food packages. The percentage of the Daily Value for calcium, which is 1,000 milligrams, is the amount that adults up to the age of 50 should consumer daily. People older than 50 should get 1,200 milligrams, and adolescents between ages 9-18 should get 1,300 milligrams. Both of these groups should work to get more than 100 percent of the “Daily Value” for calcium. These recommendations do take into account absorbability factors.
Try to get your calcium-rich foods and/or supplements in smaller amounts throughout the day. Calcium is absorbed best when taken in amounts of 500-600 mg or less. This means it’s best to not wash your calcium supplements down with the fortified orange juice or a glass of milk; however, it is better than not taking it at all.
For building and maintaining strong bones, the best bet still seems to be eating a couple of foods rich in calcium each day including that calcium-fortified orange juice. To learn more about calcium rich foods and other ways to build strong bones, plan to attend our upcoming class on osteoporosis.
“Osteoporosis: Can It Happen to You?” will take place at 10 a.m. Thursday, Nov. 10, at the Leland Library, 487 Village Road NE in Leland.
Weakened or fragile bones are a one of the characteristics of a disease called osteoporosis. It is estimated one in every two women will suffer from osteoporosis in their lifetime and one in every four men will also have an osteoporosis-related fracture.
This class will look at the factors that may put you at risk for osteoporosis, prevention methods including diet, exercise for bone health, supplements and drugs for osteoporosis prevention. It will be taught by Family and Consumer Science staff members from N.C. Cooperative Extension in Brunswick County. A healthy bone building, calcium-rich treat and handouts will be provided by the North Carolina Osteoporosis Foundation.
The class is free and open to the public. Reservations are not required. For more information, contact the Leland Library at 371-9442.
References: Martha Filipic, Ohio State University Extension and the National Osteoporosis Foundation.