~ Health Advice from PMGH – The Importance of Getting Enough Calcium In Your Diet – Part 2 of 3 ~

People With Special Calcium Needs –

Babies – Formula-fed babies are estimated to need more than babies that are breastfed because the calcium in infant formula may not be absorbed as efficiently as breast milk.

Young Children – Skeletal tissue is constantly growing, so young children have high calcium requirements.

Pre-teens and Teenagers – This group needs more calcium to build peak bone mass. If the skeleton is strengthened with enough calcium during these years, diseases like osteoporosis later in life are thought to be less likely.

Early 20s to Mid-life – Sufficient dietary calcium is required to maintain bone mass, although the amount of calcium required is less than during growth stages of life.

Pregnant Women – A developing baby needs calcium. Your doctor will advise you on your specific calcium needs based on your diet.

Breastfeeding Women – There is no increased requirement for calcium during breastfeeding, except for breastfeeding adolescents.

Elderly People – As we age, the skeleton loses calcium. Both men and women lose bone mass as they grow older and need to make sure they get enough calcium in their diet to offset these losses. While a diet high in calcium cannot reverse age-related bone loss, it can slow down the process.

Calcium Needs Vary With Age –
Not all the calcium we consume is absorbed. It is normal for a small amount of calcium to be lost and excreted which is factored into the recommended intake for your age. The recommended dietary intake of calcium is different for people of different ages and life stages. According to the The Institute of Medicine of the US National Academy of Sciences the daily recommended amount of Calcium needed is:

Babies 0-6 Months – 210mg (if breastfed) or 350mg a day (if formula fed)
Babies 7-12 Months – 270mg
Children 1-3 Years – 700mg
Children 4-8 Years – 1,000mg
Children 9-13 Years – 1,300mg
Adolescents 14-18 Years -1,300mg
Women 19-50 Years – 1,000mg
Women 51 + Years – 1,200mg
Men 19-70 Years – 1,000mg
Men 70+ Years – 1,200mg

Calcium Supplements –
It is much better to get calcium from foods (which also provide other nutrients) than from calcium supplements. If you have difficulty eating enough foods rich in calcium, you might need to consider a calcium supplement, especially if you are at risk of developing osteoporosis. Talk with your doctor if you are unable to get enough calcium-rich foods in your diet. If you are taking a calcium supplement already, it is important to follow the daily-recommended dosage on the bottle. Consuming more calcium daily then required can cause gastrointestinal upsets such as bloating and constipation.

Tip – It is important to keep up to date with regular health checks at your local urban health clinic.