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Calcium – The Wonder Mineral

milkWhen I was a kid, I never developed a taste for milk. Well, no, that’s not strictly true – I loved CHOCOLATE milk. I never had it, so, consequently, I didn’t drink milk. I heard all of the horror stories that were linked to non consumption of milk – the broken bones, the osteoporosis later in life – but I chose to ignore all of them. I mean, really, who wants to think about the things that might happen fifty years in the future?

Me. Now. I’m thinking about it now.

The most abundant mineral in the body, calcium is indeed a multi-functional miracle. Used for muscle contraction as well as to support bones and teeth, calcium is stored in the bones and teeth and said storage fluctuates during a person’s life. The bones absorb calcium for growth in the younger years, and that absorption decreases as you age, almost reversing in the later years. A lack of the optimal amounts of calcium in youth can lead to bone loss that increases the risk of osteoporosis and bone deformities such as the well known Dowagers hump. Falls and bone breaks are very common in older people, due to a combination of loss of balance and poor bone density.

I started taking a calcium supplement the day that I witnessed an elderly woman fall and experience a compound wrist fracture. That was a crystal clear indicator to me that I needed more calcium in my diet, and if I wasn’t going to drink milk, I was going to have to supplement it in other ways.

Milk and other dairy products are the most obvious and the richest sources of calcium, but not the only ones. Broccoli, kale and Chinese cabbage are relatively high in calcium, and now many foods are calcium fortified. Take advantage of orange juice, cereals, breads and even bottled water that are all calcium fortified.

One other benefit that I’ve noticed since I began to supplement with a calcium/magnesium supplement is an almost complete disappearance of the dreaded leg cramps that I have experienced at night.

The RDA for a woman aged 19-50 years is 1,000 mgs a day. A cup of skim milk has 30% of your daily allowance, and a cup of yogurt an astounding 40%. A bowl of cereal for breakfast – drink the milk! – and a yogurt in the afternoon and you are 75% of the way to your goal.

January 26th, 2010

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(Page 1 of 1, 2 total comments)

Josh Merrit

kale has calcium! who knew?

posted Jan 26th, 2010 10:38 pm

Cynthia Bailey MD

Carmen, I think another piece of the calcium puzzle is how our overall diet effects bone calcium metabolism. There is evidence that an alkaline diet helps slow calcium loss from bones. I out line my recommendations for patients in what I call The Alkaline Mediterranean Diet. These are simple dietary recommendations that can form the foundation of a person's diet. There is room for non-alkaline treats and overall, the diet promotes health and supports weight management. It's the diet I aim for in my life and that I recommend to my patients.

I out line the diet in my blog
Cynthia Bailey MD,

posted Jan 26th, 2010 1:20 pm


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