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    The Role of Calcium:Calcium is essential in the achievement and maintenance of normal bone health, an important health issue considering bone loss accelerates with age and one in three women will suffer a fracture due to insufficient bone density. Women up to age 50 and men up to age 70 need 1000 mgs a day, while men and women above these ages need 1200 mgs a day.

    The Controversy: There has been research published in the last few years suggesting a link between calcium supplements and heart attacks.

    The Research:

    • A study in Sweden tracked over 61,000 women for 19 years and found that calcium supplement takers who got at least 1,400 mgs of calcium a day (from food and calcium supplements) were 2.5 times more like to die than calcium supplement takers who got 600 to 1,000 mg a day.
    • German researchers who followed about 24,000 men and women for 11 years found that those who took calcium supplements had roughly double the risk of a heart attack of those who didn’t take supplements. However, less than 4% of the participants reported taking calcium, and there was no information for how much supplementation they took.
    • In the U.S., more than 388,000 Americans were tracked for 12 years and men who take at least 1,000 mg of calcium a day from calcium supplements or multivitamins had about a 20 percent higher risk of dying of heart disease than men who took no calcium.  However, the risk was also only higher among men who smoked. Women who took calcium supplements or multivitamins had no higher risk.

    The Bottom Line: Aim for the Recommended Dietary Allowance for calcium, but no more (reminder: 1000 mg for women <50 and men <70, 1200 mg for women >50 and men >70). Why stop at the RDA? The evidence is far from conclusive, but it’s possible that taking high daily doses of calcium supplements (1000 mg or more) may harm the heart. And there’s no evidence that more is better.

    Sources of Calcium: Try to get calcium from foods first. Cheese, yogurt and cows milk has about 300 mg of calcium per serving and a typical diet gets around 300 mg from other foods.

    Dairy and Soy Amount     Calcium (mg)   
    Milk (skim, low fat, whole) 1 cup 300
    Buttermilk 1 cup 300
    Cottage Cheese 0.5 cup 65
    Ice Cream or Ice Milk 0.5 cup 100
    Sour Cream, cultured 1 cup 250
    Soy Milk, calcium fortified 1 cup 200 to 400
    Yogurt 1 cup 450
    Yogurt drink 12 oz 300
    Carnation Instant Breakfast 1 packet 250
    Hot Cocoa, calcium fortified 1 packet 320
    Nonfat dry milk powder 5 Tbsp 300
    Brie Cheese 1 oz 50
    Hard Cheese (cheddar, jack) 1 oz 200
    Mozzarella 1 oz 200
    Parmesan Cheese 1 Tbsp 70
    Swiss or Gruyere 1 oz 270

    Vegetables

    Acorn squash, cooked 1 cup 90
    Arugula, raw 1 cup 125
    Bok Choy, raw 1 cup 40
    Broccoli, cooked 1 cup 180
    Chard or Okra, cooked 1 cup 100
    Chicory (curly endive), raw 1 cup 40
    Collard greens 1 cup 50
    Corn, brine packed 1 cup 10
    Dandelion greens, raw 1 cup 80
    Kale, raw 1 cup 55
    Kelp or Kombe 1 cup 60
    Mustard greens 1 cup 40
    Spinach, cooked 1 cup 240
    Turnip greens, raw 1 cup 80
    Acorn squash, cooked 1 cup 90
    Arugula, raw 1 cup 125
    Bok Choy, raw 1 cup 40
    Broccoli, cooked 1 cup 180
    Chard or Okra, cooked 1 cup 100
    Chicory (curly endive), raw 1 cup 40
    Collard greens 1 cup 50
    Corn, brine packed 1 cup 10
    Dandelion greens, raw 1 cup 80
    Kale, raw 1 cup 55
    Kelp or Kombe 1 cup 60
    Mustard greens 1 cup 40
    Spinach, cooked 1 cup 240
    Turnip greens, raw 1 cup 80

    Fruits

    Figs, dried, uncooked 1 cup 300
    Kiwi, raw 1 cup 50
    Orange juice, calcium fortified 8 oz 300
    Orange juice, from concentrate 1 cup 20

    Legumes

    Garbanzo Beans, cooked 1 cup 80
    Legumes, general, cooked 0.5 cup 15 to 50
    Pinto Beans, cooked 1 cup 75
    Soybeans, boiled 0.5 cup 100
    Temphe 0.5 cup 75
    Tofu, firm, calcium set 4 oz 250 to 750
    Tofu, soft regular 4 oz 120 to 390
    White Beans, cooked 0.5 cup 70

    Grains

    Cereals (calcium fortified) 0.5 to 1 cup 250 to 1000
    Amaranth, cooked 0.5 cup 135
    Bread, calcium fortified 1 slice 150 to 200
    Brown rice, long grain, raw 1 cup 50
    Oatmeal, instant 1 package 100 to 150
    Tortillas, corn 2 85

    Nuts and Seeds

    Almonds, toasted unblanched 1 oz. 80
    Sesame seeds, whole roasted 1 oz. 280
    Sesame tahini 1 oz. (2 Tbsp) 130
    Sunflower seeds, dried 1 oz. 50

    Fish

    Mackerel, canned 3 oz. 250
    Salmon, canned, with bones 3 oz. 170 to 210
    Sardines 3 oz. 370

    BMJ 2013. doi:10.1136/bmj.f228. Heart 98: 920, 2012. JAMA Intern. Med. doi:10.1001/jamainternmed.2013.3283.

    Written by Nicole Osinga, RD, MAN, BASc

    I'm a Registered Dietitian who works with clients in the Durham Region! I use evidence-based recommendations to help you achieve your nutrition goals. I have many hearty and delicious recipes to share! My office is in Courtice, ON. I regularly work with clients from Oshawa, Whitby, Ajax, Pickering, Newcastle, Bowmanville and Courtice.

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