Food Facts: Calcium

Ten million Americans currently suffer from deteriorating, weak bones, primarily because of the continual lack of calcium in their diet. This condition, called osteoporosis, is the result of inadequate calcium intake. Your body cannot make calcium for itself; therefore, it is crucial to obtain it in your diet. When you do not consume sufficient amounts of calcium, your body steals it from your bones. Over time, this robbing of calcium makes your bones so brittle that they can break by simply stubbing your toe.

How do you avoid this? The answer is simple; be sure you get enough calcium in your daily diet. This means that you should consume at least 1000 milligrams of calcium every day. Not only will you help your teeth and bones, but calcium also aids in blood clotting, nerve function, and muscle contraction. It is also important that you get enough vitamin D in your diet, as it assists in the absorption of calcium. Your body can obtain vitamin D with sufficient sunlight, but other sources include fortified low-fat milk and salmon.

See the calcium checklist below to help you determine how much calcium you consume in a typical day. If you need additional calcium in your diet, rich sources include: skim milk, ricotta cheese, yogurt, tofu, and fortified orange juice. It is important to avoid excessive protein or caffeine intake in your diet because they can hinder the body’s ability to absorb calcium. Also check out these recipes for delicious calcium filled meals!

  • Skillet Noodles and Beef
  • Veggie Bean Wrap
  • Fruit Dip
  • Old Fashioned Bread Pudding

Calcium Assessment

Here’s a check list to determine how much calcium you consume on a typical day. The foods are divided into groups; you just need add up what you eat each day to see if you’re reaching your goal of at least 1000 mg.

Dairy

Milk (skim): 1 cup = 300 mg

Milk (2%): 1 cup =295 mg

Milk (whole): 1 cup = 290 mg

Calcium fortified Soy Milk: 1 cup = 250-300 mg

Cheese: 1 oz. = 200 mg

Cottage Cheese: ½ cup =50 mg

Custard, Pudding: ½ cup =150 mg

Ice Cream, Frozen Yogurt: 1 cup =250 mg

Macaroni & Cheese: 1 cup =200 mg

Pizza: 1/8 of 15” pizza =200 mg

Quiche: 1/8 of 8” dish =200 mg

Meat, Fish, Poultry

Dried Beans, Cooked: 1 cup =100 mg

Meat, Fish, Poultry: 3 oz. =10-75 mg

Peanuts: ½ cup = 50 mg

Salmon with Bones: 3 oz. =180 mg

Sardines with Bones: 3 oz. =325 mg

Shrimp: 3 oz.= 100 mg

Oysters: 7-9 =100 mg

Tofu, firm: ½ cup = 260 mg

Fruits & Vegetables

Broccoli: ½ cup =50 mg

Greens, Cooked: ½ cup =120 mg

Other Fruits and Vegetables: 1 cup/2 small =50 mg

Calcium Fortified Orange Juice: ¾ cup =200 mg

Breads & Cereals

Bread: 2 slices =50 mg

2” Biscuit, 6” Tortilla: 1 each = 50 mg

2 ½” Square Cornbread: 1 each = 100 mg

7” Pancake or Waffle: 1 each= 100 mg

Cake: 1/16 of cake =50 mg

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References:

Center of Disease Control and Prevention

Harvard School of Public Health

National Institutes of Health: Office of Dietary Supplements


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