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Calcium: Is it possible to get too much of a good thing?
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NATIONAL OSTEOPOROSIS FOUNDATION
Deborah T Gold, PhD posted:
As most of you probably know, calcium is an essential nutrient for your bones. While many people do not get enough calcium to keep their bones healthy, some people actually get too much calcium. For example, if you eat a variety of calcium-rich foods and take multiple calcium supplements each day, you may actually be getting more calcium than your body can use. Here are some basic guidelines to help you:

If you are age 50 or older, you should get 1,200 mg of calcium every day from a combination of food and/or supplements. If you are under age 50, you should get 1,000 mg of calcium every day from a combination of food and/or supplements.*

Food remains the best source of calcium. Low-fat and non-fat dairy products are high in calcium, while certain green vegetables and other foods contain calcium in smaller amounts. Many products are also fortified with calcium. For example, some brands of soy milk, orange juice, cereal and other foods have calcium added to them.

It is important to estimate the amount of calcium you get from your diet on a typical day. This will help you determine whether you need to take a calcium supplement. If you need to take a supplement, you can calculate the amount of calcium you should be taking. To help you, NOF has created a ?calcium calculator handout.? To find out how you can receive a copy, please visit Calcium Calculator Handout .

Again, while it?s important to meet your calcium needs each day, getting more calcium than you need is not beneficial. Too much calcium may cause kidney stones or other problems in certain people. According to most experts, the safe upper limit for total daily calcium intake from all sources is 2,000-2,500 mg.

Finally, in order to absorb calcium, your body also needs vitamin D. If you reduce the amount of calcium you get from supplements, you may need to take a separate vitamin D supplement. The National Osteoporosis Foundation (NOF) recommends that adults under age 50 get 400-800 International Units (IU) of vitamin D every day. Adults age 50 and older should get 800-1,000 IU of vitamin D every day. Ask your healthcare provider if you need more. To learn more about vitamin D, please visit http://www.nof.org/prevention/vitaminD.htm .

*These recommendations apply to adults only. Calcium recommendations for children and teenagers are available at http://www.nof.org/prevention/calcium2.htm .
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Louise_WebMD_Staff responded:
I know we get a lot of questions on some of our other boards about the best sources of vegan calcium and/or non-dairy calcium in the diet. Do you have recommendations on how best to meet this need through diet if you cannot tolerate dairy or do not eat any animal products?
 
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NATIONAL OSTEOPOROSIS FOUNDATION
Deborah T Gold, PhD replied to Louise_WebMD_Staff's response:
Eating a variety of calcium-fortified foods and vegetarian calcium sources can help you to meet your calcium needs. For example, many non-dairy milk substitutes such as almond milk, rice milk and soy milk are fortified with calcium. Certain brands of tofu, juices, cereals, oatmeal and breads also have calcium added to them. Look at the package label to see if a particular product is fortified with calcium.

Some examples of vegetarian sources of calcium are almonds, bok choy (Chinese cabbage), broccoli, dried figs, kale, okra, oranges, soybeans and turnip greens.

Getting calcium from non-dairy foods is definitely possible, but it is a challenge. Vegans and lactose-intolerant people need to pay close attention to be sure they have enough calcium and vitamin D.


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