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How Much Calcium Do I Need? Print

By Andrea Holwegner, Health Stand Nutrition Consulting Inc.

The Calcium Connection

BONE HEALTH
Low calcium intake throughout life is a risk factor for osteoporosis or brittle bones. Over 30 years of research has shown that higher calcium intakes lead to greater bone gain during growth, reduced loss with age, and reduced fracture risk.

BLOOD PRESSURE LOWERING
Calcium has been shown to lower blood pressure in adults and to reduce the risk of preeclampsia and high blood pressure during pregnancy. This effect was clearly demonstrated in the DASH study in which low-fat milk products lowered blood pressure sufficiently to reduce adverse cardiovascular outcomes by 25-30 %.

COLON CANCER PROTECTION
Higher calcium intakes may reduce the risk of colon cancer because unabsorbed dietary calcium complexes with free fatty acids and bile acids that can serve as cancer promoters. Low calcium intakes remove this protection.

WEIGHT CONTROL
New research supports that dietary calcium and milk products regulate metabolism and can prevent and manage obesity. Research from the NHANES III study also demonstrate a significant reduction in the odds of being obese associated with increasing dietary calcium intake. Research from the University of Tennessee has shown that calcium and dairy products may reduce the amount of fat stored in fat cells and increase the amount of fat these cells burn. Calcium rich products significantly enhance the effectiveness and efficiency of weight control diets, with substantially greater effects exerted by dairy than by calcium supplements. This shows that there are likely other components of milk products other than calcium that help with weight control.

How Much Calcium Do I Need?

A comprehensive set of nutrient reference values known as DRI’s (Dietary Reference Intakes) have been developed for the healthy population of North America. The DRI for calcium is listed below:

AGE ADEQUATE DAILY INTAKE
(Males and Females)
1-3 years 500 mg
4-8 years 800 mg
9-18 years 1300 mg
19-50 years 1000 mg
51–70+ years 1200 mg
Pregnant/Nursing 14-18 years 1300 mg
Pregnant/Nursing 19-50 years 1000 mg

Sources of Calcium in Foods

For an adult between the ages of 19-50 years consuming 3-4 servings of milk/calcium enriched products and a varied diet of other foods will meet the recommendation. One serving of milk/calcium enriched products is equal to 1 cup (250 ml) milk/fortified soy milk/fortified rice milk, ¾ cup (175 g) yogurt, and 50 g cheese (3” X 1” X 1” piece). Note: soy cheese and soy yogurt are not calcium fortified.

Calcium Considerations:

BIOAVAILABILITY
It will be difficult to get enough calcium if you don’t eat any dairy products or calcium fortified soy/rice milks. This is because although many foods are high in calcium our body lacks the ability to unlock calcium in plant based foods because they naturally contain substances called oxalates and phytates. For example—although spinach has a high amount of calcium, you would need to eat 7 1/2 cups of spinach to get the same amount of calcium in one glass of milk!

VITAMIN D
Vitamin D increases calcium absorption by ~30-80%. Skin exposure of the face, arms and hands to sunlight for 15 minutes per day produces enough vitamin D for adults. However in Canada vitamin D production by the skin can be limited between October and March, or in people that don’t get much sun. Sunscreen also blocks vitamin D synthesis. Milk is a good source of vitamin D, and margarine, eggs, chicken livers, salmon, sardines, herring, mackerel, and swordfish also contain vitamin D. The AI (adequate intake) recommended for vitamin D for ages 1-50 years is 5 µg (200 IU), ages 51-70 years 10 µg (400 IU), and for ages >70 years 15 µg (600 IU). 1 cup of milk/fortified soy milk/fortified rice milk provides 100 IU of vitamin D. Note: yogurt, cheese, soy yogurt, soy cheese, and calcium enriched orange juice are not fortified with vitamin D.

SUPPLEMENTS
Lactose intolerant? Not eating enough dairy products or calcium fortified soy/rice milk? Talk to a Registered Dietitian for help in choosing foods and calcium and/or vitamin D supplements.

Success stories

"I am a psychologist in private practice and it is very important to me that my clients have the best care with other health care professionals. For that reason Health Stand Nutrition is my only source for exceptional Dietitians. Andrea and her team provide highly knowledgeable, compassionate, and real world support to my clients who require assistance with food lifestyle. I trust my clients to them and you would be in excellent hands making them part of your health care team."
Adele Fox, Psychologist
“This is the first time I feel satisfied; my cravings have diminished dramatically and I have a whole new relationship with food. I am eating guilt-free for the first time in my life. My energy has also dramatically increased and I feel great!
Rhonda Jenkins, Nutrition Counseling Client
“The Dieticians at Health Stand Nutrition help you to take action on the science behind eating well by making it practical, understandable, and fun. Their office is cozy and not at all clinical or intimidating. I felt like I was sitting down with a really smart, caring friend who wanted to help me make the best choices for my lifestyle and food preferences. Andrea and her team really are the best in the business.”
Marty Avery, Nutrition Counseling Client
“I have come to think of the program as a one stop shopping excursion for everything one needs to know about creating a joyous relationship with food and our bodies. In a single word, the course has gifted me with freedom from the punishing rigidity of disordered eating, old stories that never were true, and body dysmorphia that did nothing but make me lose sight of a body that has done everything I've asked, despite my careless dismissal of her needs. Now when I look in the mirror I find myself shifting from harsh criticism to gentle gratitude.”
Lynn Haley, Pursuit of Healthiness Online Course Participant
“I spent 3 hours when first diagnosed with type 2 diabetes. I learned more from my Dietitian about food in those 3 hours than I had learned in all the years of my life. I also love the newsletter, there is always something to learn.”
Peter Whitehead, Nutrition Counseling Client
“I didn’t realize how strong my “diet mentality” was, and all the rules I had in my head about food. I was in a cycle of reward/punish/binge/cringe. I booked with your business very reluctantly, on the repeated advice of my doctor, to get my slowly rising cholesterol levels in check. I thought I knew everything about food, and my behaviour with food, but I was definitely re-schooled. My weight is creeping down, I feel good about my diet, exercise, body image, and lifestyle.”
Amy Floyd, Nutrition Counseling Client
“Thanks Andrea for an amazing presentation, I have heard all positive remarks from attendees and the evaluations show the same sentiment. It is really gratifying when a speaker does their “homework” and weaves in our profession’s day to day challenges within their content, you did an awesome job of this! You truly took the “die” out of Dietician! Your information on healthy eating and simplifying how we can work towards this as we are all so busy really hit the mark. Andrea connects very well with her audience; she is energetic, funny, and very approachable.”
Carole Ann LaGrange, Transfusion Medicine Safety Officer

Event Planner for Laboratory Diagnostic Imaging Annual Event

I am a family physician who sees patients with a myriad of eating concerns – from wanting to know how to plan healthy meals for active families, to weight loss, to eating disorders, and so on. I cannot recommend the Health Stand team highly enough. I have worked with (and been to!) other Dieticians in the past and too often find that they just ask for food logs and make suggestions that are easily obtained online or in books. The Dieticians at Health Stand offer much more than just telling clients what they “should be eating.” In contrast, the team really does more of a counselling practice, and they work hard to help their clients learn more about why their eating habits may be off track and not optimal for them, as well as helping people to effect change at a deep level that, most importantly, is sustainable for lifetime health.”
Dr. Deb Putnam, Family Physician

Nutrition Counseling Client & Referring Physician

“I am a busy mom, with kids in high level sports, working full-time downtown, and running our home acreage outside the City. I now have the knowledge and tools I need to plan for and manage the chaos of meal planning.”
Gillian Gray, Pursuit of Healthiness Online Course Participant
“As a construction company, we select speakers who can relate to our industry and its employees. Andrea’s message was delivered with humor and empathy. She makes people feel as though they can make changes without leaving behind every favorite food. Andrea focused her presentation on healthy eating as a way to keep energy high throughout the day. This message and the way it was delivered resonated with our predominantly male, blue collar culture. I would highly recommend Andrea as a speaker for groups such as ours. She will get your message across without alienating anyone in your audience – which is a huge hurdle when trying to introduce a wellness program in the workplace!”
Stephanie Wood, HR and Safety Manager

Fisher Construction Group, Burlington, WA

I found my Dietitian warm, funny, and skilled at teaching nutrition concepts without the overwhelm. The general approach of each session was to mix science with emotion, which was exceedingly effective in helping me shift my perspective on food from one of anxiety to one of joy and curiosity.”
Erin Kronstedt, Nutrition Counseling Client
“Excellent presentation! What a refreshing change to have a speaker inspire rather than “lecture” about nutrition. Your captivating stories, tips and overall approach to healthy eating uplifts and puts people at ease. It was great to hear we don’t need to strive to be perfect eaters, and that small changes really can make a difference in how we feel and in our health. Thanks to Andrea, we have solutions to our everyday nutrition challenges that can actually work in real life!”
Tina Tamagi, Human Resources

ARC Resources Ltd.

“Had I not joined this course I would have struggled with no focus, low energy, and mindless eating. Andrea is an excellent teacher and motivator. This is not just a course, it is a nutrition club with mentorship, support, and connections with other people with similar situations.”
Lorri Lawrence, Pursuit of Healthiness online course participant

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