We’ve all heard from childhood that we should drink milk for healthy bones. Milk is one of the most common sources of calcium which is a vital ingredient in bone development and maintenance. Many people stray from consuming milk as they enter adulthood for a variety of reasons whether it is fat content, lactose issues or preferences for other beverages. While it is most commonly found in milk and dairy products such as yogurt and cheese, calcium can be found in alternative sources such as calcium-fortified soy milk and juices, as well as breakfast cereals, spinach, broccoli and almonds. However, you would need larger quantities of these products to achieve the recommended amount of calcium (10 cups of spinach; 3.5 cups of broccoli, about 88 almonds). Calcium supplements are also available and can help boost intake, they do not contain the protein found in milk or soy milk or the other nutrients they contain. It is also important to know that dairy sources of calcium also contain Vitamin D which enhances the absorption of calcium and is needed not only to protect bone health but also to reduce the risk of high blood pressure, diabetes, and heart disease; enhance immune function and reduce inflammation. Vitamin D is not readily available naturally in other foods. Active individuals and athletes are recommended to check with their health care provider to make sure that they have adequate Vitamin D levels.
Paying attention to bone health should be a life-long effort. Whether you have young developing bones or you are concerned about developing bone issues such as osteoporosis, bones require a matching life-long intake of calcium.
Reference from the SIRC Collection: Clark, Nancy (2009). Calcium concerns. Ultr-FIT, 19(8), 40-41.