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Quick Facts

C A L C I U M


What is calcium?

Calcium is a mineral that primarily functions in your body by making your bones and teeth hard. The rest is in your blood and soft tissues; it helps your muscles contract and your blood clot, and helps your nervous system work properly.


How much calcium do you need?

There is a conflict between the U.S. Recommended Dietary Allowance and what the dairy advocates would have you do; the latter bases its numbers on a National Institutes of Health symposium on calcium consumption.



RDA
NIH
"Optimal Calcium Intake"
Adults 800 mg 1,000 mg
Adults over 65 N/A 1,500 mg
Pregnant and nursing women 1,200 mg 1,200 mg
Young adults (11-24) N/A 1,200-1,500 mg
Children under 11 800 mg 800-1,200 mg


Is it possible to take too much calcium?

According to the National Institutes of Health, yes. Although it should be safe for adults to consume up to 2,000 mg of calcium every day without adverse side effects, the institute says, going over that may lower the absorption of certain medications, such as tetracycline, and of some nutrients, including iron. Overuse of calcium carbonate (available commercially as the active ingredient in Tums and other antacids) can also lead to severe renal damage and other problems related to calcium toxicity.


Calcium and kidney stones

Some studies have indicated that men with a history of kidney stones may make the problem worse by increasing their intake of calcium. In other studies, men with low calcium intake suffered fewer kidney stones when they consumed more calcium. The NIH says more study on the calcium-kidney stone link is needed.

Calcium and osteoporosis

Getting enough calcium is one of the best ways to prevent osteoporosis, a debilitating disease in which the bones deteriorate and take a long time to heal. One-half to one-third of post menopausal women will get varying degrees of osteoporosis; of the 25 million Americans with osteoporosis, one in five is male.


Some foods high in calcium

CHEESE:
ITEM SERVING CALOR. FAT SAT. FAT PROT. SOD. CALCIUM
RICOTTA, PART SKIM 1 cup
339.5
19.5g
12g
28g
307mg
669mg
RICOTTA, WHOLE MILK 1 cup
428
32g
20.5g
27.5g
207mg
509mg
PARMESAN, GRATED 1 oz.
129
8.5g
5.5g
12g
528mg
390mg
PARMESAN, HARD 1 oz.
111
7.5g
4.5g
10g
454mg
335.5mg
ROMANO 1 oz.
109.5
7.5g
5g
9g
340mg
301.5mg
ITEM SERVING CALOR. FAT SAT. FAT PROT. SOD. CALCIUM
GRUYERE 1 oz.
117
9g
5.5g
8.5g
95.5mg
286.5mg
SWISS 1 oz.
106.5
8g
5g
8g
73.5mg
272.5mg
SWISS, PASTEURIZED* 1 oz.
94.5
7g
4.5g
7g
388.5mg
219mg
PROVOLONE 1 oz.
99.5
7.5g
5g
7g
248mg
214.5mg
MONTEREY 1 oz.
106
8.5g
5.5g
7g
152mg
211.5mg
MILK:
ITEM SERVING CALOR. FAT SAT. FAT PROT. SOD. CALCIUM
GOAT 1 cup
168
10g
6.5g
8.5g
121.5mg
325.5mg
SKIM W/VIT.A 1 cup
85.5
0.5g
0.5g
8.5g
126mg
302.5mg
1% W/VIT.A 1 cup
102
2.5g
1.5g
8g
123mg
300mg
2% W/VIT.A 1 cup
121
4.5g
3g
8g
122mg
296mg
WHOLE MILK 1 cup
150
8g
5g
8g
119.5mg
291.5mg
YOGURT:
ITEM SERVING CALOR. FAT SAT. FAT PROT. SOD. CALCIUM
PLAIN, SKIM MILK 8 oz.
126.5
0.5g
0
13g
173.5mg
452mg
PLAIN, LOW FAT 8 oz.
143.5
3.5g
2.5g
12g
159.5mg
414.5mg
FRUIT, LOW FAT 8 oz.
231.5
2.5g
1.5g
10g
132.5mg
345mg
PLAIN, WHOLE MILK 8 oz.
139.5
7.5g
5g
8g
105.5mg
274mg
Source: USDA - Nutrient Data Lab (Sept. 1996) - all data rounded to nearest 0.5

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