From your health and wellness experts at Prisma Health
Health, Orthopedics
May 31, 2017

Are you getting enough calcium?

Lightsey Jett, RDN
Palmetto Health-USC Orthopedic Center
May is National Osteoporosis Month. Osteoporosis is a condition in which the strength and size of the bones is reduced, leading to increased risk of fracture and complications. Women are about four times more likely to develop osteoporosis, but both men and women are susceptible as both gradually lose bone mass with aging. Though most commonly present later in life, Lightsey Jett, registered dietitian nutritionist with Palmetto Health-USC Orthopedic Center, says it is imperative to focus on osteoporosis prevention throughout our life span. 

Lightsey highlighted how osteoporosis can affect you at different stages of life. Here are some recommendations: 

During the teen years, when our bones are developing, it’s important to maximize bone development in order to reduce the risk of osteoporosis later in life. Recommendations for this age include: 
  • Recommended daily intake of calcium is 1,300 mg. Unfortunately, less than half of teenage boys and only about 13 percent of teenage girls get this recommended daily amount. 
  • Heavy soda consumption is often correlated with decreased calcium consumption.
  • It is vital to prioritize intake of foods and beverages rich in calcium and vitamin D throughout all of life, but especially for teens. 
Peak bone density occurs around the age of 30, so then the priority becomes maintaining strong bones. Here’s some recommendations for this age: 
  • Heavy caffeine consumption and high sodium diets are known to increase urinary calcium losses which can weaken bones. 
  • Disordered eating patterns, including yo-yo dieting, can have negative consequences on bone mineral density. 
  • Cigarette smoking and excessive alcohol intake are also risk factors for developing osteoporosis, so it is important to avoid such behaviors. 
Throughout life, calcium recommendations change. Lightsey gives these tips to keep in mind. 
  • Adults 19-50 years of age need 1,000 mg calcium per day. 
  • After the age of 50, the recommendation increases to 1,200 mg calcium daily. 
  • Other ways to help prevent osteoporosis through diet include eating adequate amounts of lean meat and other protein foods (like beans) daily and keeping sodium intakes down. 
  • A lower-sodium diet helps the body maintain its calcium rather than losing it in urine. In general, try to keep foods to less than 300 mg sodium per serving. 
  • High calcium foods include milk, yogurt, cheese, calcium-fortified orange juice and cereals, calcium-treated tofu, canned salmon and sardines with bones, dark leafy green vegetables and dried beans. 
  • High vitamin D foods include fortified milk, yogurt, soy milk, egg yolks, some brands of juice, liver and fatty fish like salmon and mackerel. 
Throughout our life span we should try to consume a well-rounded diet rich in calcium and vitamin D, adequate in protein and sodium-restricted. Remember to continue to enjoy plenty of fruits and vegetables, too!
 
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