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Calcium Facts

You may have heard that calcium is good for your bones, but did you know it is also good for your heart? Research has shown that increasing calcium in your diet can help lower your blood pressure. One in four Americans (about 50 million adults) has high blood pressure, also called hypertension.

Calcium is also important for building healthy teeth. It helps keep your heart beat regular and helps your blood clot.

If you don’t get enough calcium in what you eat, your body will take what it needs from your heart, your blood, and your bones. Over time, this can weaken your skeleton and put you at risk for developing osteoporosis and broken bones.

How much calcium do I need?

For most people, three servings of milk or milk products daily are recommended (one serving provides approximately 300 mg of calcium). For your specific needs, refer to the chart below.

What counts as a serving?

  • 1 cup of milk or yogurt

  • 1  1/2 cups of frozen yogurt or ice cream

  • 1  1/2 oz. of natural cheese

  • 2 oz. of processed cheese

  • 1 cup of calcium-fortified juice

Recommended Calcium

 

Age Group  

Recommended Daily Dose

Infants

Birth to 5 months

400 mg

5 months to 1 year

600 mg

Children

1 to 3 years

500 mg

4 to 8 years

800 mg

9 to 18 years

1,300 mg

Adults

19 to 50 years

1,000 mg

51 and older

1,200 mg

Pregnant or Breastfeeding Women

Under 18 years

1,300 mg

19 to 50 years

1,200 mg

 

Increasing Calcium in Your Diet

For breakfast

  • Make your oatmeal with milk instead of water.

  • Spread ricotta cheese and fruit preserves on your toast.

  • Add some fun to your yogurt with granola or crunchy cereal.

  • Use milk in your pancake batter and scrambled eggs.

For lunch

  • Add a slice of low-fat cheese to sandwiches.

  • Enjoy chocolate milk with your sandwich.

  • Make your soup with low-fat milk.

For dinner

  • Sprinkle grated cheese on your meatloaf.

  • Top vegetables with melted low-fat cheese.

  • Add grated Parmesan cheese to your pasta dishes.

  • Sprinkle your salad with part-skim mozzarella wedges.

For snack

  • Add parmesan cheese to your popcorn.

  • Try a pudding cup or yogurt.

  • Try some string cheese with your crackers.

Calcium Supplements

 If you feel you are not getting enough calcium through the food you eat, calcium supplements may be needed. The following chart lists some common brands and instructions for taking them.

  • Tums

  • Oscal

  • Viactive

Take with food and chew well. Limit to 500 mg per dose.

Take separately from high-fiber food. Large amounts of caffeine may decrease the absorption of calcium.

  • Citracal (Calcium Citrate)

Take at any time. Limit to 500 mg per dose.

 

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