Calcium: Bone up for Health

Campaigns pushing milk rich in calcium as the answer to strong bones are notorious. But does the saying “got milk?” really translate into “got strong bones?” There is in fact an important message behind the infamous milk mustache. Calcium is a mineral that is not only important for the body’s nervous and cardiovascular systems, but is vital to our bone health. Approximately ninety nine percent of the body’s calcium reserve is stored in our bones and teeth to support their structure and function. Although calcium deficiency does not have immediate short term affects, long term inadequate calcium intake has lasting effects on our health. Insufficient calcium intake can lead to the development of osteoporosis, a degenerative one disease characterized by low bone mass. As we age, individuals living with osteoporosis are at an increased risk of falls resulting in bone fractures to the wrist, hip, and spine.

So you are probably thinking- why worry about this now? Individuals typically reach their peak bone mass by age 30, but sufficient calcium consumption can delay the serious bone loss associated with increasing age.  A person with high bone mass as a young adult will be more likely to have a higher bone mass later in life. The Institute of Medicine of the National Academies recommends that adults ages 19 to 50 consume 1,000 mg of calcium every day. This can sometimes pose a challenge for those who are vegan or lactose intolerant. Milk, yogurt and cheese are the primary sources of calcium, but the nutrient can also be found in a variety of nondairy sources. Orange juice, beans, nuts, fish fortified cereals and leafy greens such as broccoli and spinach contain enough calcium to help you reach the recommended daily value. Consuming a diet rich in calcium now will support the long-term growth of strong the healthy bones!