High-Calcium Diet
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Calcium is a mineral that is essential to your body's health including the growth and maintenance of strong bones. Your body needs a constant supply of calcium. When there is not enough calcium available from the diet, your body pulls what it needs from your bones. Over time, a diet lacking in calcium can lead to osteoporosis .

Why Should I Follow a High-Calcium Diet?
If you are at risk for or have osteoporosis, a diet high in calcium is one important part of your prevention or treatment plan. Calcium can help build and maintain strong bones. If you have osteoporosis, the diet can reduce the rate of bone loss.

How Much Calcium Do I Need?
In general, men and premenopausal women need 1,000 milligrams of calcium per day. Postmenopausal women need 1,200 milligrams per day. Teenagers need 1,300 milligrams per day.

What Are Some Good Sources of Calcium?
Rather than focusing on consuming more of just one calcium-rich food, such as milk, try adding a variety of different foods. The table below lists examples of some foods that are good sources of calcium:

FruitSpecific Food (1 cup)Approximate Milligrams of CalciumCalcium-fortified orange juice330-350Dried figs241CerealsSpecific Food (Amount)Approximate Milligrams of CalciumGeneral Mills Fiber One Bran (½ cup)200General Mills Whole Grain Total (¾ cup)400General Mills Wheaties (1 cup)200Kellogg's All Bran Original (½ cup)250Quaker Life (¾ cup)200CheeseSpecific Food (Amount)Approximate Milligrams of CalciumCheddar (1 ounce)204Gruyere (1 ounce)287Mozzarella, part skim (1 ounce)222Muenster (1 ounce)203Parmesan, grated (1 ounce)314Pasteurized American (1 ounce)156Provolone (1 ounce)214Swiss (1 ounce)224Cottage cheese 1% milkfat (1 cup)138YogurtSpecific Food (Amount)Approximate Milligrams of CalciumFrozen (1 cup)74Fruit, nonfat, or lowfat (6 ounces)258Milk (dairy)Specific Food (1 cup)Approximate Milligrams of CalciumNonfat306Lowfat290Whole276FishSpecific Food (Amount)Approximate Milligrams of CalciumAtlantic sardines with bones, canned in oil, drained 2 sardines92Canned pink salmon with bones and liquid (3 ounces)181Canned sockeye salmon with bones, drained (3 ounces)203SoySpecific Food (1 cup)Approximate Milligrams of CalciumSoy93Soy, calcium-fortified368Soybeans261VegetablesSpecific Food (1 cup)Approximate Milligrams of CalciumCollards (frozen, chopped, boiled)357Kale (chopped, fresh, boiled)94Kale (chopped, frozen, boiled)179Mustard greens (fresh, boiled)104Spinach (chopped, fresh, boiled)245Spinach (chopped, frozen, boiled)290
What Other Dietary or Lifestyle Changes Should I Make?
In addition to increasing calcium intake, other important components of preventing or treating osteoporosis include:

Vitamin D is essential in order for your body to use the calcium you consume. Good sources of vitamin D include: fortified milk, salmon, mackerel, egg yolks, and sunlight. Weight-bearing exercise, such as walking, running, and strength-training, can help strengthen your bones. Also, quitting smoking is essential to stopping further bone loss.

Are There Any Foods That I Should Avoid?
While there is no single food to avoid on this diet, a diet extremely high in fiber or alcohol can interfere with calcium absorption in your body. Caffeine , found in coffee, tea or soda, can leach calcium out of your bones and into your urine.

Suggestions on Increasing Calcium Intake
Here are some tips on how to increase your intake of calcium:

  • Choose breakfast cereals that are fortified with calcium.
  • Add milk instead of water when making oatmeal.
  • Use canned salmon, instead of tuna, to make lunch salads.
  • Drink calcium-fortified orange juice.
  • Add nonfat dry milk to recipes, such as pancakes, bread, cookies, puddings, and cocoa.
  • Use yogurt in place of sour cream or mayonnaise when making dressings, dips, or sauces.
  • Add shredded cheese to foods, such as baked potatoes, casseroles, and salads.
  • If you are finding it difficult to get enough calcium through your diet alone, talk to your doctor about taking calcium supplements.


National Osteoporosis Foundation

Health Canada Food and Nutrition

Osteoporosis Canada

Calcium. Office of Dietary Supplements website. Available at: http://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/Calcium-HealthProfessional/ . Updated November 16, 2012. Accessed February 15, 2013.

Calcium intake and supplementation. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: http://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed/what.php . Updated November 2, 2012 Accessed February 15, 2013.

Osteoporosis. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: http://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed/what.php . Updated February 5, 2013. Accessed February 15, 2013.

Vitamin D. Office of Dietary Supplements website. Available at: http://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/VitaminD-HealthProfessional/ . Updated June 24, 2011. Accessed February 15, 2013.

Last Reviewed September 2013

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