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For anyone, especially if you’re elderly, or pregnant, or breast feeding, or hypocalcaemic, or an athlete – the path to a calcium-rich diet is paved with problems.
While the first place you should stop to get calcium is your diet, there may be some difficulty in getting the right amounts.
If you’re vegan, for example, the obvious dairy sources are out of the picture. Of course, vegetables have calcium, however you’d have to be eating so much broccoli to get to the levels found in milk that you could make yourself ill by poisoning your thyroid. In the pursuit of calcium, death by broccoli is an embarrassing conclusion.
With other leafy veg, like spinach, kale and beans, the calcium is blocked by oxalates which prohibit the body’s ability to absorb. That makes them pretty useless calcium givers.
For daily calcium intake, the institute now recommends 1,000 milligrams for children 4 to 8, women and men 19 to 50, and men 51 to 70; 1,300 milligrams for children 9 to 18; and 1,200 milligrams for women 51 and older and men 71 and older. The upper limit of safety, the institute said, is 2,000 milligrams a day for men and women over 51.
Thus, if you are a postmenopausal woman who typically consumes only one or two servings a day of dairy, you may be hard put to get 1,200 milligrams of calcium from the rest of your diet unless you take a supplement.
According to the New York Times, people have to be careful with how much they are consuming, or not consuming in a lot of cases.
“Dr. Ethel Siris, director of the osteoporosis clinic at Columbia University Medical Center in New York, said such women could benefit from a supplement of calcium carbonate (600 milligrams a day) or calcium citrate (500 milligrams a day).
Be sure to read the product label carefully — a usual “serving” is two tablets. Calcium carbonate should be taken with meals to assure absorption, but calcium citrate can be taken at any time and may cause fewer digestive problems.
Most calcium supplements now also contain vitamin D (usually as cholecalciferol, or D3), supplying about 250 to 300 international units in two tablets. The Institute of Medicine recommends 600 units a day for everyone from age 1 to 70 and 800 units for men and women 71 and older, with a safe upper limit for everyone over the age of 9 of 4,000 units.
Vitamin D has one advantage over calcium: It is fat-soluble and can be stored in the body for later use. But getting enough of it can be tricky.”