Nutrition and Bone Health 2

nutritionbone3

Calcium requirements

Calcium requirements differ between Countries and are also dependent on your age and sex. It is widely accepted that the most calcium is needed during the teenage years when there is a growth spurt (a period of rapid bone growth), and also for women over 50 and men over 70.

Peak Bone Mass (the stage of life where bone density is at its highest), is achieved at around age twenty to twenty-five and nearly 40% of this is acquired during puberty. Think of your skeleton as the bone bank where you deposit calcium (about 99% of the body’s calcium is found in the skeleton) and the more you deposit the more bone you can withdraw later on in life. An adequate calcium intake is therefore extremely important for children and teenagers. If the amount of calcium you put into the bone bank is too low, the body reacts by starting to withdraw calcium from the bone bank. This can cause bone to become brittle and may lead to osteoporosis later on in life. A small amount of calcium is also essential for the correct functioning of your heart, muscles and nerves.

Like exercise during the different stages of life, an adequate calcium intake is also necessary to at first help achieve maximum Peak Bone Mass.

During adulthood adequate dietary calcium is vital to maintaining bone strength. In post-menopausal women, there is a more rapid bone loss and calcium requirements during this phase therefore increase.

In the elderly patient, absorption of calcium from the gut is less effective and there is an increased excretion of calcium via the kidneys. Calcium intakes at this stage should also therefore increase.

It is a fact that less than 50% of Australians (similar to other Countries), get their recommended daily intake of calcium.

According to the National Health and Medical Research Council of Australia (2006), the recommended dietary intakes for the different age groups are as follows:

CategoryAge (yrs)Recommended dietary intake
Children1-3
4-8
500mg/d
700mg/d
Girls and Boys9-111000mg/d
Teens12-181300mg/d
Adults: Women and Men19+1000mg/d
Women>501300mg/d
Men>501300mg/d

Calcium from Food

The best way to get your recommended calcium intake is to eat a diet rich in dairy and other calcium-rich foods. The calcium content of foods differs markedly, and it is important to know which foods have a high calcium content and to make sure that you eat sufficient of these calcium-rich foods. Osteoporosis Australia recommends at least 3-5 serves a day. Dairy still remains the main source of calcium and probably the easiest way to get in enough calcium – 3 servings a day would generally get you to your recommended daily intake. Remember that low-fat and skim options actually contain the same amount (and sometimes a little more), of calcium as full-fat products.

Lactose intolerant individuals are often able to eat fermented dairy products like yogurt and cheese as the lactose in these has already been broken down. For those who do not like milk- eat more other calcium-rich foods like tinned salmon and sardines with the bones, nuts and fruits, or calcium-fortified foods, and if this still does not work, calcium supplementation is another option.

Below are some examples of calcium-rich foods. These constitute a very small example of all the calcium-rich foods available in supermarkets. Start educating yourself about calcium-rich foods, by reading food labels and buy the ones which are healthy, low fat, high calcium options.

Calcium-Rich Foods

FOOD ITEMSERVING SIZECALCIUM Kj
Milk

Whole

Skim

 

250ml

250ml

 

304mg

341mg

 

762

382

Yoghurt

Plain

Fruit, low fat

Frozen, fruit

 

200g

200g

200g

 

400mg

340mg

240mg

 

734

960

930

Cheese

Cheddar

Mozarella

Cottage (2% fat)

Ricotta (part skim)

 

25g

25g

110g

110g

 

200mg

200mg

80mg

335mg

 

480

335

430

800

Ice Cream, Vanilla (11% fat)

Hard

Soft serve

 

1 cup (240ml)

1 cup (240ml)

 

175mg

275mg

 

770

940

Fish and Shellfish

Sardines, in oil, drained with bones

Salmon, pink, canned with bones

Shrimp, canned

 

75g

75g

75g

 

375mg

170mg

100mg

 

730

500

420

Vegetable

Broccoli, cooked from raw

Broccoli, cooked from frozen

Turnip greens, cooked from raw

Soybeans, cooked from raw

 

1 cup (240ml)

1 cup (240ml)

1 cup (240ml)

1 cup (240ml

 

135mg

100mg

250mg

130mg

 

170

210

125

980

Almonds 25g75mg690