Why Should Calcium be Important to You?

This week, August 1-7, is National Healthy Bones Week! This national campaign has been running for the last 17years and aims to help raise awareness about the importance of calcium rich foods in the diet! I've talked about calcium briefly in my Fruit and Yoghurt Parfait (great calcium rich recipe!) entrybut lets look at it more in depth now:

Why should calcium matter to adults?
Everyone knows you need to get enough calcium during your growing teenage years and also enough calcium as you get older. Some people might also know that bone loss may speed up after menopause in women. But did you know that:

Your peak bone mass is reached in your 20-30s

This means that your bones are at their strongest and most dense. Although you might not be growing taller any more during this life stage it's important to still maintain a good quality diet that includes 2-3 serves of dairy a day. This ensures you are still putting enough funds into your bone bank. This isn't to say calcium is not important during childhood, it's very important but don't forget you still need it into your 20s and 30s!

Like this graph, if you have invested well in your bone bank over time, when you reach your 70s you will have a higher bone mass and be less likely to have a fracture than your friends who did not follow a healthy diet and exercise.

This graph shows something similar but as a comparison of males vs females. Now all you guys out there don't start thinking you're invincible! Osteoporosis (disease where the bones are weakened) affects 1 in 5 men over 50 and an osteoporotic fracture occurs in 1 in 3 men over 60years old.

Osteoporosis is such a silent disease as it often shows no signs or symptoms until a fracture happens. It's a long term investment and is not reversible once the damage is done. Your bones are living tissue full of 2 types of bone cells. Ones that build bones (osteoblasts) and ones that break bones down (osteoclasts). When you are growing, the number of bone building cells and from your 30s onwards there is often more bone breakdown cells for the rest of your life. This speeds up after menopause and old age in men as oestrogen and testosterone actually support bone formation. But it is possible to slow this process down! In fact just a 10% increase in peak bone mass (when your bones are strongest) will significantly delay osteoporosis and your risk of fractures later in life!

The website is really great this year with lots of fact sheets, sample planners for all ages, recipes and also a cowculator!

Although it isn't the most comprehensive of measures for calcium content it gives you a good start to see if you are not getting enough calcium and some sample sources of calcium.

This year they are also on twitter @HealthyBonesAU  so follow them for the latest on the initiative!

The site has some great information so make sure you check it out this week to get you motivated and started in building up your bones fund!

More Osteoporosis Facts
  • I've mentioned prevalence in men but 1 in 2 women over 60 will suffer a osteoporotic fracture in their lifetime
  • Fractures can lead to chronic pain, immobility, restricted activities,other limitations and, sometimes, death.
  • Every 5-6minutes someone in Australia is admitted to hospital with an osteoporotic fracture
  • For elderly who survive a fracture, only 1 in 3 will recover to their previous level of independence
  • Smoking can increase your risk of fracture 1.5folds while drinking (>4standard drinks) can double your risk

More Calcium Facts
  • Males and females 12-18yo need 1300mg of calcium/day
  • Males 19-70yo need 1000mg calcium/day
  • Females 19-50yo need 1000mg calcium/day
  • Males >70 and females >50 need 1300mg calcium/day
  • There is more calcium in low fat dairy products as without the fat present there is more room for calcium! Less calories and more calcium = double win!
  • Fortified soy products are a great alternative to dairy 
  • Hard tofu is a great source of calcium while silken tofu is not due to the different production methods
  • Fish with bones included such as sardines or canned salmon (with bones) are also great sources of calcium
  • Calcium content is less in white cheese such as cottage and ricotta compared to yellow cheese due to manufacturing differences
  • Some breakfast cereals and breads are fortified with calcium so check the label
  • Almonds are also a moderate source of calcium 
  • Vegetarian calcium options: spinach, baked beans, tofu, fortified soy and other products, tahini paste, apricot, almonds,  

    Lets hope some of us can be as fit as this woman when we're in our 80s! So go forth, get some exercise, sunlight (vitamin D) and calcium in you!

    Share your favourite ways to include calcium in your day below!


    sckma said...

    Thanks Wendy! I'll be sure to up my calcium intake from now

    Wendy said...

    That's fantastic sckma =)

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    The information presented on this blog acts as general nutrition advice and is not tailored to meet individual needs. It should not be used as a replacement for any medical advice you have recieved from medical practitioners. Please discuss any concerns for your health with your doctor or Accredited Practicing Dietitian before starting a new dietary or exercise regime as they can give more personalised recommendations.

    I make every effort to ensure information on Nutrition with Wendy is correct and up to date however nutrition is an evolving field and discrepancies can arise. If the information here appears incorrect or out of date please let me know and I will do my best to update my posts.