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Calcium is a mineral that helps us make strong bones and teeth. Most of the calcium in our bodies is in our bones. We spend almost half of our lives (30 to 35 years) building to a peak bone mass. Taking in enough calcium helps younger people build strong bones. Maintaining a safe calcium level helps older people limit bone loss. Our bodies cannot make calcium, so we must get it from foods or supplements.
You might need a supplement if you fall in to one or more of the following categories:
I don’t eat dairy products or other foods that are high in calcium (such as kale, bok choy, and calcium-fortified foods) 2 to 3 times a day.
I am a woman past menopause.
I am pregnant or breastfeeding.
I do not get frequent weight-bearing exercise (such as walking, running, or weightlifting).
The daily recommended amount of calcium depends on many factors, including your age and sex.
Your health care provider can help you choose the best amount of calcium for you.
Here are some tips to help you get the most from a calcium supplement:
Choose calcium carbonate or calcium citrate. (The citrate form is easy to absorb.) Avoid calcium from oyster shells. Aim for calcium that is plant-based.
Check the label for elemental calcium. You need 1,000 to 1,500 mg.
If you also take an iron supplement, take it a few hours before or after the calcium.
Be aware that taking calcium interferes with the absorption of certain types of antibiotics. Talk to your pharmacist.
Eat a balanced diet to supply all the nutrients your body needs.
Milk, yogurt, and cheese
Certain green leafy vegetables, such as kale, bok choy, and collard greens
Fish with bones, such as canned salmon, mackerel, and sardines
Tofu made with calcium carbonate (not the type called nigiri)
Drinks that have calcium added, such as some orange juice and rice and soy drinks
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