A few months ago I had a hip bone density scan which showed no osteoporosis. Considering only one hip was scanned, I feel secure that the rest of the bones in my body are fine as well. I wasn’t surprised as I had been taking one 600mg calcium pill a day for many years. But turning sixty-five, I wanted to make sure that was enough. Although the results of the scan proved promising, my nutritionist suggested I change to liquid calcium with magnesium. The one I use is supplemented with Vitamin D3.
I find this combination interesting because I drink coconut milk and it too combines calcium, magnesium and vitamin D in the milk. The vitamin D helps my body absorb the calcium. According to Speaking of Women’s Health, “To maintain strong, healthy bones, you have to consume a diet rich in calcium throughout your life and your need for calcium becomes even greater as you age.”
The U.S. Recommended Daily Allowance (USRDA) for calcium is 1,000 milligrams per day for men 51 to 70 years old. Postmenopausal women who are not taking estrogen should get 1,500 milligrams per day. So if I combine my coconut milk (150 mg) and my vitamin supplement (600 mg), I’m only getting 750 mg of calcium a day – just half of what I should be getting per day.
To make up the difference, the next thing I did was look at is what other foods are high in calcium. That lead me to things such as salmon with bones, sardines, kale, broccoli, dried figs and calcium fortified juices and breads. Not liking any of those things except kale and breads, I was beginning to get concerned.
With further study I found that I can remember to add 150 mg if I eat oatmeal for breakfast, then add an additional 94 mg for a forth a cup of almonds to snack on, and 111 mg of almond butter added to my 60 mg of whole grain bread for lunch. Okay, now I’m 200 mgs short. Snack on a box of grapes, add a cup of chopped kale to my daily smoothie and maybe I’ll get there, but most likely not. And that’s okay. The fact that I’m willing to work toward reaching my goal of 1,500 mg of calcium a day, is enough right now.
But here’s the part that is really frustrating. I read Reed Mangels, PhD, RD at The Vegetarian Research group that about 20 mg of calcium is lost with each gram of sodium in the diet. And higher dietary sodium is associated with lower bone density. I do not want to go two steps forward in my journey and then take three steps backward. I can control the amount of sodium I add to a meal but what about what’s already in the food I buy, especially canned foods? The answer of course is for me to cook with fresh or frozen food, dried beans and even better grow my own vegetable which I enjoy doing every season.
Or as my husband suggests just take one of his 600 mg calcium pills and I should be good to go. Now off to exercise and keep those strong bones working.