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Calcium and aging bones

11/04/03 12:00AM By Mary Barrosse-Schwartz
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(Host) Commentator Mary Barrosse Schwarz says that one out of two Americans are not getting enough calcium - and she says - that's a problem.


(Barrosse) Calcium is critical to healthy aging. To make the bones strong, the body uses calcium, preventing osteoporosis later in life. Calcium may also help regulate blood pressure. Young people especially need to consume the recommended daily amount of calcium - in order to have healthy bones later in life.

The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that children need to consume 800 mg per day of calcium, and preteens and adolescents up to fifteen hundred mg per day of calcium. Good dietary habits, developed early, can last a lifetime. But most young people don't get enough calcium, probably because instead of milk, kids are drinking sodas, and other drinks, which have no calcium. And, soda can actually prevent calcium absorption, and
leech calcium out of healthy bones, leading to the increased chance of bone breakage.

From age 19 to age 50, you need up to 1200 mg per day of calcium. But, young people may believe that foods rich in calcium are fattening even though the opposite is true. A study conducted at the Medical University of South Carolina indicates that foods rich in calcium are an important part of a healthy diet that prevents obesity. Research at the University of Tennessee suggests that the calcium helps to regulate fat storage and fat burning in fat cells. Research Michael Zemel believes that the study shows that the more calcium there is in a fat cell, the more fat it will burn. He aid "Calcium is no magic bullet. What the study says is that higher-calcium diets favor burning rather than storing fat. Calcium changes the efficiency of weight loss."

Pregnant and nursing women need up to 1200 mg per day. A recent study at Wayne state University in Michigan showed a higher risk for fetal bone damage and eclampsia in pregnant women with diets low in calcium. From age 50 on, the need is about 1200mg - rising to 1500mg after age 65.

A glass of milk has about 300mg of calcium. So 3 to 4 servings meets the daily requirements. The best way is to get it in food and that is much easier now with calcium added to in orange juice, bread, and cereal. Some foods rich in calcium are salmon, eggs, cottage cheese, yogurt, broccoli, milk, sardines, oats, almonds and sweet potatoes.

You can also take calcium in a supplement. But, while it is virtually impossible to overdose on calcium in foods, it is possible with calcium supplements. Plus, the supplements aren't as easily absorbed by the body. If you do take calcium supplements - take calcium citrate, not calcium carbonate, which is not absorbed as well.

The message here is get your calcium - it is critical to healthy aging.

Mary Barosse Schwartz is a mother, a freelance writer and an artist.
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