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The Vital Role Calcium Plays In Avoiding Bone Density Loss

Brittle bones, caused by osteoporosis, is something all of us need to be aware of and avoid as we grow older. Osteoporosis is a disabling disease that takes decades to develop. Without proper diet and exercise, osteoporosis causes bones to gradually become fragile and weak.

The National Osteoporosis Foundation reports that one half of women and 1 in 8 men over age 50 will suffer a bone fracture due to osteoporosis. Currently, this frightening disease affects 28 million people in the United States, with 80% of the cases occurring in women. About 24% of these hip fracture patients will die within a year of their fracture.

Some of the keys for preventing osteoporosis include

  • Maintaining healthy body weight (not being underweight)

  • An active lifestyle

  • Avoiding smoking

  • Avoiding excessive use of alcohol

  • A diet rich in calcium

The focus of this article is about calcium -- how much you need and good dietary sources to obtain it.

The optimal calcium intake for most adults age 25 to 65 is 1,000 mg per day. The exception is postmenopausal women who are not taking estrogen -- they require 1,500 mg per day. Regardless, by age 65, all adults should get 1,500 mg of calcium per day. Calcium is one of the cornerstones of osteoporosis prevention. Talk to your doctor about your specific calcium needs as well as other ways you can prevent osteoporosis that are specific to you.

The best way to get calcium in your diet is by eating and drinking a variety of dairy products including milk, cheese, and yogurt. As an example, you would need to drink about 4 glasses of milk a day to receive the calcium recommended by the National Osteoporosis Foundation.

Other products which are rich in calcium that you should consider are broccoli, fortified oatmeal, dried figs, calcium-fortified orange juice, Kellogg's Eggo frozen waffles, and calcium enriched V-8 juice.   The following table shows how much calcium is in a serving of each of these as well as other foods:

  8 oz. glass of skim milk  300 mg
1 slice of American cheese  100-150 mg
8 oz. serving of non-fat cottage cheese  50 mg
8 oz. serving of non-fat yogurt     450 mg
1/2 cup of cooked broccoli   47 mg
1 serving of fortified instant oatmeal               215 mg
1/4 cup of dried figs     72 mg
8 oz. glass of calcium-fortified orange juice   350 mg
2 Eggo frozen waffles      300 mg
10 oz. glass of calcium enriched V-8 juice   325 mg
1 Kellogg's Nutrigrain Cereal Bar   200 mg

Getting your calcium by foods is more preferable than taking supplements since calcium benefits vary by supplement and some of us may have the tendency to take them sporadically. But as the name implies, supplements can help on those days when you haven't gotten enough from the foods you eat. An average calcium supplement contains 600 mg. of calcium. Be make sure to take them on a daily basis however. In addition, a daily vitamin D supplement will help your body absorb the calcium that it needs. In fact, some supplements contain vitamin D in addition to calcium to aid in this absorption.

Wherever you decide to get your calcium, don't delay. Most people think osteoporosis can be cured at any age without drugs. The truth is, you really need to prevent it beginning in childhood.

Nicole Niemiec is founder of, a site containing reliable health information for improving your quality of life.



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