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How Much Calcium Do I Need?
RDA for Adults 19-50 is 1000 mg/d
RDA for Adults >50 is 1200 mg/d
Upper Safe Limit for Adults 19-50 is 2500 mg/d
Upper Safe Limit for Adults >50 is 2000 mg/d
Why Do I Need Calcium?
Calcium is well known for its important role in bone health and 99% of our calcium resides in our bones. The other 1% of our body's calcium is in our blood where it plays a critical role in the following:
Regulation of muscle contraction
Clotting of blood
Transmission of nerve impulses
Secretion of hormones
Activation of some enzyme reactions
The 1% of calcium in our blood is so important to life that our bones act as a bank that the body can use to withdraw and deposit calcium as needed to maintain adequate levels. A diet that is consistently low in calcium will not be reflected in low blood calcium levels because this level is kept constant by taking calcium from bone. This means that a calcium deficiency will likely go unnoticed until it shows up as osteoporosis later in life.
The best absorbed plant-based sources of calcium are leafy greens such as kale, collard greens, bok choy, mustard greens and turnip greens
Other good sources include fortified soy milk, calcium set tofu, fortified orange juice and broccoli
There is calcium in beans, almonds, sesame seeds and greens such as spinach, chard and beet greens but the calcium in these foods is poorly absorbed
Calcium Content (mg)
Collard greens, cooked, 1 cup
Kale, cooked, 1 cup
Bok choy, cooked, 1 cup
Mustard greens, cooked, 1 cup
Turnip greens, cooked, 1 cup
Broccoli, cooked, 1 cup
Tofu, firm, calcium-set, 1/2 cup
Soy milk, fortified, 1 cup
Almond milk, fortified, 1 cup
Orange juice, fortified, 1 cup
Soy yogurt, 6 oz
Bone loss (osteoporosis)
Increased risk of kidney stones
Interference with absorption of other minerals
How to Assess Status
As mentioned before, blood calcium is not a good indicator of dietary intake because blood calcium is tightly regulated by the body and the bones give up calcium as needed to replete blood levels
Talk to your physician about appropriate tests to screen for osteoporosis and pay attention to your diet to ensure that you are including several calcium rich sources in your diet each day to meet the RDA
However, new evidence debunks this long-standing theory as is discussed in Dr. Greger's video below
Please check out the following videos and article related to calcium:
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