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Calcium and Osteoporosis Prevention

Osteoporosis and Calcium

It is critical to get enough calcium throughout life to maintain strong and healthy bones. Many people don't know that calcium can help with osteoporosis prevention and consequently don't have enough calcium in their diets to prevent osteoporosis.[17] The recommended amounts of calcium change with age. Under age 9, the recommended amount is between 210 and 800 milligrams a day (mg/day). Between ages 9 and 18, the amount jumps to 1,300 mg/day. For ages 19 to 50, the daily amount should be 1,000 mg. For women who are pregnant or lactating, the amount is between 1,000 and 1,300 mg/day. For people 51 and older, the recommended amount is 1,200 mg/day.

Recommended Daily Intake of Calcium[17]

Ages Recommended Calcium (mg/day)
Birth - 6 months 210
6 months - 1 year 270
1 - 3 years 500
4 - 8 years 800
9 - 18 years 1,300
19 - 50 years 1,000
51 years and above 1,200
14 - 18 years (if pregnant or lactating) 1,300
19 - 50 years (if pregnant or lactating) 1,000

Be sure to check the supplement bottle to see how much calcium is in each tablet. You may be required to take more than one tablet at the time to get enough calcium. If you use a calcium carbonate supplement, you need to take it with a meal.[17] It requires an acidic environment to be properly absorbed. Calcium carbonate can cause gas and bloating. A good alternative is calcium citrate, which doesn't have to be taken with a meal. Calcium citrate also doesn't cause gas and bloating. People who take medicine that reduces stomach acid, such as Tagamet or Nexium, should take calcium citrate rather than calcium carbonate to help with absorption. Calcium supplements can cause constipation. If you notice this problem, increase the amount of fiber and liquids in your diet. Calcium citrate may not cause as much constipation as calcium carbonate.

Taking large amounts of calcium may increase your risk of kidney stones, although it is believed that calcium citrate is less likely than calcium carbonate to do this.[17] Discuss calcium supplements with your doctor to see what's right for you.

Our bodies are not able to absorb large amounts of calcium at the same time.[17] Don't try to take more than about 500 mg of calcium at a time. You may have to take supplements more than once a day to make sure your body can absorb enough calcium. Also, some foods can limit your body's ability to absorb calcium. Try to avoid eating spinach, collard greens, sweet potatoes, rhubarb, beans, whole grains, seeds, nuts and soy products when you take your calcium supplement.

Publish Date: 
Monday, October 18, 2010