Saturday, December 22, 2007

Boning Up on Calcium

taken from

Calcium is well known for it's bone-building powers, but that's not the nutrient's only benefit. It also has been shown to help normalize blood pressure and may reduce your risk for colon cancer. And some studies have suggested it might even help you lose weight, although this claim is still being studied.

Despite all these perks, many diet books and weight-loss programs are so single-mindedly focused on weight loss that they often ignore this critical nutrient. That can mean big trouble for many people, especially when you consider that so many of us are already missing the mark when it comes to calcium. The average American woman gets only 65 percent of her daily calcium needs (adults up to age 50 need 1,000 milligrams daily, while older folks need 1,200 milligrams daily). Obviously, those who diet may receive even less because cutting calories often means skimping on calcium-rich foods.

You can meet your daily calcium requirement and still keep your calories in check by choosing lower-calorie, high-calcium foods (like the ones listed below) and, if necessary, taking a calcium supplement. Both calcium carbonate and calcium citrate are good choices; take them with a meal to improve absorption, and take no more than 500 milligrams at a time.

Calcium-Rich Picks

To reach your daily calcium quota, eat at least two of these calcium-rich foods each day:

• 1 cup nonfat milk* (83 calories, 306 mg calcium)

• 1 cup one percent milk* (103 calories, 290 mg calcium)

• 1 cup calcium-enriched soymilk* (Calories and calcium vary; choose brands that have about 100 calories and 30 percent of the daily value, or DV, for calcium per cup, such as most Silk flavors.)

• 3/4 cup (6 ounces) plain low-fat yogurt (100 calories, 365 mg calcium)

• 1 ounce regular, waxy cheese, such as Swiss or cheddar (105 calories, 225 mg calcium)

• 1 1/2 ounces low-fat waxy cheese (105 calories, 300 mg calcium)

• 1 cup calcium-enriched orange juice; limit this to twice a week, as whole fruit is much more satiating for the calories than juice (110 calories, 300 to 350 mg calcium depending on the brand)

• 3 ounces of canned salmon with bones (140 calories, 188 mg calcium)

• 3 3/4 ounces of canned sardines, packed in oil, drained (147 calories, 210 mg calcium)

• 1/2 cup nonfat ricotta cheese (90 calories, 400 mg calcium)

* Milk and many brands of soymilk are enriched with vitamin D, which is also critical for bone formation and cancer prevention.

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