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Bone Health Week

Milk and other calcium-rich foods are an important part of a bone-healthy lifestyle reduces the risk of fractures as you get older, and may also protect against certain cancers.

Many people have also taken calcium supplements to strengthen bones and prevent the bone thinning disease osteoporosis.

But do calcium pills really help?

A recent medical report in America shows that 600-1,000 milligrams of calcium a day is a good amount of calcium both for keeping bones strong and for lowering the risk of colon cancer, but taking pill amounts that are higher than 600-1000 milligrams of calcium does not prevent fractures.   "Plenty of people already get enough calcium from their daily food intake," says Nelson Watts, MD, professor of medicine and director of the Bone Health and Osteoporosis Center at the University of Cincinnati USA

"Enough calcium is a good thing," says Dr. Watts. “But too much, on the other hand, can lead to problems such as your getting kidney stones. There’s really no benefit to going over a total -- food and supplements combined -- of 1,500 milligrams of calcium a day," he advises.

If your food provides 600-100mg of calcium a day then research shows that adding calcium supplements will not be more effective in keeping your bones healthy.

But Dr. Watts says "they are what their name suggests: pills." Calcium-rich foods provide calcium and other vitamins and minerals as well.  

Do you drink milk?

If your answer is “no”, then you must use calcium pills.

For women, adult bone strength is at its best at about age 30.  With aging, bone loss gradually happens and then increases after your periods stop. So it is important for young women to build good bone mass and for older women to do what they can to maintain it?

How to Get Enough Calcium

While medicines are available to help treat the bone-weakening disease osteoporosis, making a commitment to a "bone-healthy lifestyle" might mean preventing the condition in the first place. You can help increase bone strength by making sure that you have enough calcium, vitamin D, and exercise in your routine, says Watts.

Adults under the age of 50 need 1,000 milligrams of calcium a day, while those over the age of 50 need 1,200 milligrams a day, advises Dr. Watts, who perhaps surprisingly adds that before you start increasing your calcium supplements, look at your diet. If you eat a lot-of food with calcium such as skim milk, yogurt, low-fat cheese, almonds, sardines, and calcium-fortified orange juice, you may be getting what you need in your diet. 

Calcium: Gotta Have It for Healthy Bones

In addition to diary products, director for the National Institute of Whole Health in Boston, USA also says you can build up bone reserve by adding other calcium-rich foods such as leafy green vegetables (including kale, cabbage, collard greens, and bok choy; nuts (especially almonds and pistachios); legumes; and seeds. Sesame seeds are particularly good.


  • cool drinks; (They sap calcium from your bones).
  • Antacid pills 
  • Caffeine: it reduces calcium absorption. Caffeine is also found in many cool drinks like coca cola
  • Excessive alcohol
  • Excess salt  
  • Excessive red meat

If you take a calcium pill only take between 500 or 600 milligrams at a time. It will be absorbed in your body better that way.

Importance of Vitamin D

It’s possible you are taking too much calcium, but perhaps you are not taking enough Vitamin D which is very important for bone health.  And Vitamin D helps us to absorb calcium in our body says Dr. Watts.

Vitamin isn’t in most of the foods we eat, and the amount added to milk or multivitamins is not enough to help us absorb our calcium.

Most of the vitamin D we get comes from exposure to sunlight.

"More D is better," says Dr. Watts, who believes that the recommended daily allowance is too low and advises patients to have their blood levels tested and if needed, take additional vitamin D-3 as a supplement. Vitamin D-3, known as (cholecalciferol) is the form of vitamin D that best supports bone health. According to the Institute of Medicine, the tolerable upper intake for people 14 years and older is 2,000 IU)

As a bone-building ingredient, eat protein in your diet.

"If you don't take in enough protein, then calcium even with vitamin D, won't help prevent thinning bones and osteoporosis disease.

Get the protein you need to bolster bones with these protein sources:

  • 3 ounces light tuna, drained: 22 grams protein
  • 3 ounces cooked chicken, turkey, or pork tenderloin: about 20 grams
  • 3 ounces cooked salmon: 19 grams
  • 8 ounces fat-free plain yogurt: 13 grams
  • 8 ounces fat-free milk: 8 grams

Exercise and Sunshine Part of the Program

Walking for at least 30 minutes a day, preferably outdoors to get the benefits of sunlight provides natural vitamin D from sunlight and bone strength.  Tai chi exercise improves balance and coordination, thereby reducing the risk of falls. .

The less stress you feel, the better, since stress hormones deplete calcium reserves.

Are You at Risk of Osteoporosis?

Are you at risk for developing osteoporosis? The National Osteoporosis Foundation lists these risk factors:

  • Age. The older you are, the greater your risk of having osteoporosis because your bones become weaker and thinner.
  • Gender. Men can develop osteoporosis, but women lose bone more rapidly than men because of hormonal changes related to menopause, and they get osteoporosis far more than men..
  • Family/Personal History. If your mother has a history of fractures, you may be likely to have osteoporosis as well. If you have suffered a fracture yourself as an adult, your risk is also greater for more fractures in future.
  • Race. White and Asian women are more likely to develop osteoporosis than Africans although black people are also at risk.
  • Bone Structure and Weight: If  you're small-boned and thin (under 127 pounds) you're at greater risk.
  • Lifestyle. Cigarette smoking, drinking too much alcohol, eating too little calcium rich foods and having little dairy foods like milk, cheese, yogurt or getting little or no weight-bearing exercise like walking  
  • Medications.  Medications for medical conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis,  thyroid problems such as an underactive thyroid, seizure disorders, and stomach  diseases may have side effects that can damage bone and lead to osteoporosis.

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