Calcium is a mineral that the body needs to build strong bones and teeth. Calcium allows blood to clot normally, muscles and nerves to function properly, and the heart to beat nor¬mally. Most of the calcium in your body is found inside your bones.
A low calcium intake increases the rate of bone loss. If you do not consume enough calcium, your body begins to take calcium from your bones, decreasing your bone mass and putting you at risk for osteoporosis. Inadequate calcium intake may also increase blood pressure and increase your risk for high blood pressure.
The following guidelines will help ensure that you are consuming enough calcium:
The amount of calcium in a product is listed as percent of daily needs based on 1000 milligrams (mg) of calcium per day. To calculate the milligrams of calcium, just add a zero to the percent of calcium on the label. For example, if 1 cup of milk contains 30% of calcium needs, then it contains 300 milligrams of calcium. (See food label, below.)
Lactose intolerance is the inability to digest lactose, the sugar found in milk. It causes cramping, gas, or diarrhea when dairy products are consumed. Lactose intolerance occurs because of the body’s lack of lactase, an enzyme needed to digest lactose.
Here are some suggestions to help you meet your calcium needs:
If you are having trouble consuming enough calcium-rich foods in your daily meal plan, talk to your physician and dietitian for suggestions. It is best to reach your calcium needs through food sources.
If calcium supplementation is indicated, the amount of calcium you will need from supplement depends on how much calcium you are consuming through food sources. Calcium supplements and some antacids containing calcium may complement an already healthy diet. Many multiple vitamin supplements contain a limited amount of calcium. Do not take calcium and iron supplements together.
Limit calcium supplements to 600 mg elemental calcium maximum at a time. Review the Nutrition Facts label, and review the serving size and amount of calcium that is provided for that serving size.
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This information is provided by the Cleveland Clinic and is not intended to replace the medical advice of your doctor or healthcare provider. Please consult your healthcare provider for advice about a specific medical condition.
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