As a woman, I am well aware of how difficult it is to get the required amount of calcium in my diet everyday. For those of us in the 51-70 year range, the recommended daily allowance is 1200. Being in that age group, I carefully read labels to be sure I’m getting the highest percentage of calcium available for good bone health because the older you are, the greater your risk for osteoporosis.
When my grandmother was in her later years, (she lived until 92), she fell twice: the first time she broke her wrist; the second time was more serious and she broke her hip while in a nursing home. She never recovered. Her generation didn’t have the knowledge we now have about calcium, osteoporosis, and bone health.
Experts recommend that you select foods that contain 10% or more of the DV (Daily Value) for calcium.
Reading food labels taught me that brands differ in the amount of calcium they contain. Cheese for example. I bought a Mexican grated cheese called Cotija that is similar in taste to parmesan cheese but is much cheaper. On the other hand, Cotija contains 15% calcium per ounce compared to Belgioioso parmesan, the brand I usually buy, which contains 35% calcium per ounce. However, I use the Cotija more because it costs less. It’s great sprinkled on a salad, pasta, or corn on the cob. Typically, Parmigiano-Reggiano goes for $15.99 a pound. I paid $4.74 for a pound of the grated Cotija. You can find it at Walmart.
Canned salmon brands differ too. There are even differences within the brands themselves. All of the following are per 2.2 oz. servings. According to their labels when I took this survey:
- Chicken of the Sea Pink Salmon has 0% calcium
- Chicken of the Sea Sockeye Salmon, With Bone is 20% calcium
- BUMBLE BEE® Red Salmon (Sockeye) is 30% calcium
- BUMBLE BEE® Pink Salmon is 20% calcium
The bones in canned salmon contain calcium. They are soft and you can mash them with a fork. If you want calcium in your diet, you should eat them! I buy whatever canned salmon has the highest percentage of calcium.
Milk Does a Body Good
One of the best kept secrets I’ve learned about getting more calcium into my diet is powdered milk. In 1/3 cup of dry milk or 1 cup prepared, you get 30% of your DV for calcium. I add powdered milk to many recipe dishes and there is no telltale taste. It is excellent for baking and I usually add extra. Just this morning when I made pancakes, I added powdered milk to the almond milk I used for the recipe. They were delicious!
Herbs such as dill, basil, marjoram, thyme, oregano, poppy seed, mint, celery seed, sage, parsley and rosemary are all high in calcium. Savory contains 2132 mg of calcium per 100g serving.
Absorption of Calcium
Experts tell us that we also need to be concerned about our bodies absorbing calcium. Medications and other factors can interfere with the absorption of calcium. Foods that contain Vitamin D and also Vitamin C greatly help the body to absorb calcium. For example, oranges or broccoli contain both calcium and vitamin C.
Move Closer to the Equator
Researchers examining the incidences of osteoporosis around the world believe that it is partly connected to a lack of vitamin D. The further away from the sunniest section of the world, the equator, the more likely people are to have osteoporosis. The osteoporosis rate increases by 0.6 per cent for every 10 degrees of latitude from the equator! I find that very interesting!
Sources of Vitamin D
The best source of vitamin D is cod liver oil. But who wants to take it? I purchased a small bottle over a year ago and it is still unopened. The salmon that you’re eating for the Omega-3 and calcium benefits is also a good source of vitamin D. It may be the new “perfect” food!
Not everyone agrees that we need sun protection at all times in the form of a UVB blocker. Some researchers say it is necessary to expose the skin to the sun for approximately 5–30 minutes between 10 AM and 3 PM at least twice a week to the face, arms, legs, or back without sunscreen in order to get the Vitamin D we need. Fair-complexioned people like myself need less sun exposure while darker complexioned people need more.
Supplements May Cause More Harm Than Good
A new study found that daily use of calcium supplements increased heart attack risk by 86 percent. Supplements may not be the answer.
These are activities that require your muscles to work against gravity, such as: weight-lifting, jogging, hiking, stair-climbing, step aerobics, dancing, and racquet sports for example. Swimming and walking are not the best exercises for building bone although not all experts agree on that.
Now that I’m armed with the facts that were unknown to my grandmother, I think I stand a much better chance of having strong, healthy bones into my later years.