Calculating Calcium from Foods

Pam Flores @phflores Health Guide
  • How do you get your daily requirement for calcium?  Do you get your calcium through your diet, or do you take a pill?  Recent studies show that taking too much calcium, through a supplement; can cause heart disease, kidney stones and calcification of the arteries.  If you already have heart problems, no doubt your physician has warned you about taking too much calcium and recommends getting this from your daily diet.  Calcium from our diet is the natural way of obtaining the recommended daily allowance (RDA) and this form doesn’t come with the same health risks that a supplement does.

     

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    According to the National Osteoporosis Foundation, women under the age of 50 need 1,000 mg of calcium per day.   If you are over 50 years of age you'll need 1,200 mg of calcium and men age 70 or younger need 1,000 mg.  For men over the age of 71, you’ll need 1,200 mg of calcium.  This is the total amount you’ll need daily from all sources of calcium, so if you find it is very easy to get the RDA from your diet alone, you won’t need to take a supplement.

     

    The easiest way to keep track of your calcium is to use a nutrient chart to enter the portion size and calcium totals for each item of food. To get you started here’s a list of popular calcium-rich foods that you may already be eating.

     

    Produce

    Serving Size

    Calcium

    Collard greens, frozen

    8 oz

    360 mg

    Broccoli rabe

    8 oz

    200 mg

    Kale, frozen

    8 oz

    180 mg

    Orange

    1

    55 mg

    Seafood

    Serving Size

    Calcium

    Sardines, canned

    3 oz

    325 mg

    Salmon, canned w/bones

    3 oz

    180 mg

    Shrimp, canned

    3 oz

    125 mg

    Dairy

    Serving Size

    Calcium

    Milk, skim, low-fat, whole

    8 oz

    300 mg

    Ricotta, part-skim

    4 oz

    335 mg

    Yogurt, plain, low-fat

    6 oz

    310 mg

    Yogurt, Greek

    6 oz

    200 mg

    American cheese

    1 oz

    195 mg

    Cottage Cheese, 2%

    4 oz

    105 mg

    Ice Cream

    8 oz

    85 mg

    Frozen yogurt, vanilla

    8 oz

    105 mg

    Fortified Foods

    Serving Size

    Calcium

    Almond milk, rice/soy

    8 oz

    300 mg

    Orange juice

    8 oz

    300 mg

    Cereal, fortified

    8 oz

    100-1,000 mg

    Oatmeal, fortified

    1 packet

    140 mg

    **Partial list

     

    You can find the full list of calcium-rich foods at the National Osteoporosis Foundations web site.

     

    If you want to use a calculator to add up your daily totals the Osteoporosis Canada site has a fantastic calculator that will enter your serving size, and total your calcium for you to let you know if you’ve reached your daily requirement.

     

    Sources

     

    Calcium and Vitamin D: What You Need to Know. National Osteoporosis Foundation, 2014. Retrieved 30 March 2014 http://nof.org/articles/10#CALCIUMSOURCES

     

    A Guide to Calcium-Rich Foods. National Osteoporosis Foundation, 2014 Retrieved 30 March 2014 http://nof.org/articles/886

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    Calcium Calculator, Osteoporosis Canada, 2014.  Retrieved 30 March 2014. http://www.osteoporosis.ca/osteoporosis-and-you/nutrition/calculate-my-calcium/

     

Published On: March 31, 2014