Calcium

The Role of Calcium in Bone Health

What is Calcium?

Calcium is a critical nutrient which makes up approximately 1kg of the average adult's body weight. Over 99 per cent of calcium in the body is stored in the bones and teeth with the remaining one per cent stored in the blood and cellular fluids..

The human skeleton contains 99.5% of the total amount of this mineral in the body, including the teeth. The rest is stored in blood and cellular fluitds. The 99.5% within bones is available to the body should the body need it for other purposes, but it is also necessary to maintain skeletal health.

The body stocks this mineral till the age of 25 to 30, after which it begins to lose bone density. Eating food rich in this mineral can help replace that loss, but the body also needs vitamin D to be able to process it. Pregnancy, diet, hormone imbalance, certain illnesses and also some medications increase the natural loss of this mineral from the bones. Consuming excessive quantities of alcohol, smoking, lack of physical activity and inadequate exposure to the sun, which helps the body produce vitamin D, also take their toll.

The menopause tends to accelerate this process and can lead to osteoporosis if preventative measures are not taken. Despite common belief, osteoporosis is not a women's problem and can also affect men as they age.

As many deaths are caused by fractures of the femur in elderly patients it is necessary to take measures to protect our bones as early as possible, but certainly after the menopause.

The recipe for healthy bones is calcium, plus vitamin D, plus weight bearing exercise. The bones of the human skeleton contain 99.5% of the total amount of this mineral in the body. That within bones is available should the body need it for other purposes, but needs to be replaced to maintain healthy bones.

Food Sources

Food, Standard Amount

Calcium (mg)

Calories

Plain yogurt, non-fat (13 g protein/8 oz), 8-oz container

452

127

Romano cheese, 1.5 oz

452

165

Pasteurized process Swiss cheese, 2 oz

438

190

Plain yogurt, low-fat (12 g protein/8 oz), 8-oz container

415

143

Fruit yogurt, low-fat (10 g protein/8 oz), 8-oz container

345

232

Swiss cheese, 1.5 oz

336

162

Ricotta cheese, part skim, ½ cup

335

170

Pasteurized process American cheese food, 2 oz

323

188

Provolone cheese, 1.5 oz

321

150

Mozzarella cheese, part-skim, 1.5 oz

311

129

Cheddar cheese, 1.5 oz

307

171

Fat-free (skim) milk, 1 cup

306

83

Muenster cheese, 1.5 oz

305

156

1% low-fat milk, 1 cup

290

102

Low-fat chocolate milk (1%), 1 cup

288

158

2% reduced fat milk, 1 cup

285

122

Reduced fat chocolate milk (2%), 1 cup

285

180

Buttermilk, low-fat, 1 cup

284

98

Chocolate milk, 1 cup

280

208

Whole milk, 1 cup

276

146

Yogurt, plain, whole milk (8 g protein/8 oz), 8-oz container

275

138

Ricotta cheese, whole milk, ½ cup

255

214

Blue cheese, 1.5 oz

225

150

Mozzarella cheese, whole milk, 1.5 oz

215

128

Feta cheese, 1.5 oz

210

113

Source: Nutrient values from Agricultural Research Service (ARS) Nutrient Database for Standard Reference, Release 17. Foods are from ARS single nutrient reports, sorted in descending order by nutrient content in terms of common household measures. Food items and weights in the single nutrient reports are adapted from those in 2002 revision of USDA Home and Garden Bulletin No. 72, Nutritive Value of Foods. Mixed dishes and multiple preparations of the same food item have been omitted from this table.

Click here to learn about Non Dairy Sources


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