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Calcium
Theaverageadultsweightismadeupofabouttwopercentcalcium.Mostofthisisfoundinthe skeletonandteeth;therestisstoredinthetissuesorblood.Calciumisvitalforhealthyteethand bones.Italsoplaysacrucialroleinothersystemsofthebody,suchasthehealthandfunctioning ofnervesandmuscletissue. Goodsourcesofcalciumincludedairyfoodsandcalciumfortifiedproductssuchassoymilkand breakfastcereals.Peopleatdifferentlifestagesneeddifferentamountsofcalciumyoung children,teenagersandolderwomenallhavegreaterthanaveragerequirements. AccordingtotheAustralianNutritionSurvey,about90percentofwomenand70percentof childrendonotachievetherecommendeddietaryintake(RDI)forcalcium. The role of calcium Calciumplaysarolein: Strengtheningbonesandteeth Regulatingmusclefunctioning,suchascontractionandrelaxation Regulatingheartfunctioning Bloodclotting Transmissionofnervoussystemmessages Enzymefunction.

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Calcium and dairy foodAustraliansreceivemostoftheircalciumfromdairyfoods.Ifmilkis removedfromthediet,itcanleadtoaninadequateintakeofcalcium.Thisisofparticularconcern forchildrenandadolescents,whohavehighcalciumneeds.Calciumdeficiencymayleadto disorderslikeosteoporosis(adiseaseofbothmenandwomeninwhichbonesbecomefragileand brittlelaterinlife). Too little calcium can weaken bones Ifthebodynoticesthatnotenoughcalciumiscirculatingintheblood,itwillusehormonesto reducetheamountputoutbythekidneysintheurine.Ifnotenoughcalciumisabsorbedthrough thegastrointestinaltract,calciumwillbetakenfromthebones. Ifyourdietaryintakeofcalciumisconstantlylow,yourbodywilleventuallyremovesomuch calciumfromtheskeletonthatyourboneswillbecomeweakandbrittle. Calcium needs vary throughout life Therecommendeddietaryintakeofcalciumisdifferentforpeopleofdifferentagesandlifestages: Babiesfrom712months,babiesareestimatedtoneed270mgperdayifbreastfedand 350mgperdayifbottlefed.Thecalciumininfantformulamaynotbeabsorbedas efficientlyasthatfoundinbreastmilk.Forchildrenaged13years,theamountneeded risesto500mgperday. Young children skeletaltissueisconstantlygrowing,soyoungchildrenhavehigh calciumneeds.Childrenaged48yearsneedaround700mgperday.Thisrisesto 1,000mgperdayforthoseaged911years. Pre-teens and teenagers pubertypromptsagrowthspurt.Thisgroupneedsmore calcium,witharecommendeddietaryintakeof1,300mgperdayforbothboysandgirls betweentheagesof12and18years. Peak bone mass yearsfrombeforetheonsetofpubertytoaroundthemid-20s,the skeletonincreasesitsbonemass.Iftheskeletonisstrengthenedwithenoughcalcium duringtheseyears,diseaseslikeosteoporosisinthelateryearsarethoughttobeless likely.Duringmid-life,womenandmenbothneedaround1,000mgperday.

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Pregnant womenalthoughadevelopingbabyneedsalotofcalciumandthisistaken fromthemothersbones,mostwomenrapidlyreplacethisbonelossoncethebabyhas stoppedbreastfeeding.Thereisnoadditionaldietarycalciumrequirementforpregnancy, exceptforthepregnantadolescent,whorequiresanadditional1,300mgperdayofcalcium tomeettherequirementsofbothherowngrowthandthefoetus. Breastfeeding womenthereisnoincreasedrequirementforcalciumduring breastfeeding,exceptforthebreastfeedingadolescent,whoneedsanadditional1,300mg perday. Elderly people asweage,theskeletonlosescalcium.Womenlosemorecalciumfrom theirbonesinthefiveyearsaroundtheageofmenopause.However,bothmenand womenlosebonemassastheygrowolderandneedtoensureanadequateamountof calciumintheirdiettooffsettheselosses.Whileadiethighincalciumcannotreverseagerelatedboneloss,itcanslowdowntheprocess.Therecommendeddietaryintakefor calciumis1,300mgperdayforwomenovertheageof50yearsandmenovertheageof 70years. Non-Caucasian populationspopulationswithsmallerframesizesmayneedless calciumthanCaucasianpopulations,whohavelargerframesizesandhigherintakesof animalfoods,caffeineandsalt.

Good sources of calcium Gooddietarysourcesofcalciuminclude: Milk and milk productsmilk,yoghurt,cheeseandbuttermilk.Onecupofmilk,a200g tubofyoghurtor200mlofcalciumfortifiedsoymilkprovidesaround300mgcalcium. Calciumfortifiedmilkscanprovidelargeramountsofcalciuminasmallervolumeofmilk rangingfrom280mgto400mgper200mlmilk. Leafy green vegetablesbroccoli,collards,bokchoy,Chinesecabbageandspinach.One cupofcookedspinachcontains100mg,althoughonlyfivepercentofthismaybe absorbed.Thisisduetothehighconcentrationofoxalate,acompoundinspinachthat reducescalciumabsorption.Bycontrast,onecupofcookedbroccolicontainsabout45mg ofcalcium,buttheabsorptionfrombroccoliismuchhigherataround5060percent. Soy and tofutofu(dependingontype)ortempehandcalciumfortifiedsoydrinks. Fishsardinesandsalmon(withbones).Halfacupofcannedsalmoncontains402mgof calcium. Nuts and seedsbrazilnuts,almondsandsesameseedpaste(tahini).Fifteenalmonds containabout40mgofcalcium. Calcium fortified foodsincludingbreakfastcereals,fruitjuicesandbread: 1cupofcalciumfortifiedbreakfastcereal(40g)containsupto200mgofcalcium cupofcalciumfortifiedorangejuice(100ml)containsupto80mgofcalcium 2slicesofbread(30g)provides200mgofcalcium.

Calcium supplements Itismuchbettertogetcalciumfromfoods(whichalsoprovideothernutrients)thanfromcalcium supplements.Ifyouhavedifficultyeatingenoughfoodsrichincalcium,youmightconsidera calciumsupplement,especiallyifyouareatriskofdevelopingosteoporosis.Itsagoodideato discussthiswithyourhealthcareprofessional. Ifyoudotakecalciumsupplements,makesureyoudonttakemorethantheamount recommendedonthebottle(usually6001,500mgperday).Toomuchcalciummaycause gastrointestinalupsets,suchasbloatingandconstipation. Lifestyle can affect bone strength Someofthefactorsthatcanreducecalciuminyourbonesandlowerbonedensity(weakenbones) include: Highsaltdiet Morethansixdrinksperdayofcaffeine-containingdrinksforexamplecoffee,colaand tea(althoughteahaslesscaffeine) Excessivealcoholintake Verylowbodyweight Veryhighintakesoffibre(morethan50gperday,fromwheatbran) Lowlevelsofphysicalactivity LowlevelsofvitaminDthismaybeanissueforpeoplewhoarehouseboundorfor womenwhocovertheirbodiescompletelywhentheyareoutside,astheydonotget enoughsunlightontheirskin.

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Where to get help Yourdoctor Anaccreditedpractisingdietitian,contacttheDietitiansAssociationofAustralia NutritionAustraliawww.nutritionaustralia.org

Things to remember

Theaverageadultsweightismadeupofabouttwopercentcalcium. Goodsourcesofcalciumincludedairyfoods,calciumfortifiedfoods(suchassoyproducts) and,toalesserdegree,someleafygreenvegetables. Ifyoudonthaveenoughcalciuminyourdiet,youmaybeatincreasedriskofdeveloping osteoporosis.

This page has been produced in consultation with, and approved by:

DeakinUniversity-SchoolofExerciseandNutritionSciences

Copyight 1999/2009StateofVictoria.ReproducedfromtheBetterHealthChannel(www.betterhealth.vic.gov.au)at nocostwithpermissionoftheVictorianMinisterforHealth.Unauthorisedreproductionandotherusescomprisedinthe copyrightareprohibitedwithoutpermission. ThisBetterHealthChannelfactsheethaspassedthrougharigorousapprovalprocess.Forthelatestupdatesandmore informationvisitwww.betterhealth.vic.gov.au.

Calcium

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