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Question:

Every day I take a calcium supplement, drink eight ounces of milk and eight ounces of calcium-fortified orange juice and eat four ounces of yogurt on my cereal in the morning. Is this the best way to be getting all the calcium I need? — Beth, DC

Jane Folkman

Answer:

 When making a decision about your calcium intake, remember this simple guideline: food first, fortified foods next and finally supplements. The best method to get your calcium quota each day is to stick to foods naturally rich in calcium, like dairy products. Dairy products contribute more that 75 percent of the calcium in our food supply. The next best way to get calcium in your diet is to use calcium-fortified foods such as calcium-fortified juices, cereals, waffles and granola bars. Calcium supplements, though often necessary, are the third choice for reaching your daily-recommended calcium goal.

If you use a calcium supplement, it is usually recommended that you take it between meals to ensure that other nutrients don't interfere with absorption. Some recommend that you take your supplement before bedtime, because bone loss that leads to osteoporosis is thought to accelerate at night. Vitamin D enhances calcium absorption, so make you’re your supplement includes it. A lot of salt or sodium-rich foods can increase calcium loss through your urine. Too much protein in the diet and foods like spinach, wheat bran and diet colas (high in phosphorus) can also interfere with retention and absorption of calcium.

About Jane Folkman

Jane Folkman, MS, RD graduated from Case Western Reserve University on a full scholarship with a Master's degree in Public Health Nutrition . She also attended the University of Vermont where she earned her BS degree with a double major in Human Nutrition and Foods and Animal Sciences. Her specialty areas are maternal and child health, diabetes, and nutrition communications.

Jane has served as an elected officer for the American Dietetic Association, and on numerous committees and task forces for this leading professional organization. She has also served as the President of the Massachusetts Dietetic Association. Jane was chosen the Distinguished Dietitian of the Year Award for Massachusetts in 1994.


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