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Calcium Intake and Diabetes

Posted on June 29, 2010 | No Comments

Question: How much calcium should a diabetic patient take in a day? What foods are rich in calcium?

The human body contains more calcium than it does any other mineral. For an average 130-pound adult, about 1,200 grams — almost three pounds — of the body is calcium. Your body composition depends on the size of your body frame, the density of your bones, and how much bone you have lost through aging.About 99 percent of your body’s calcium is in your bones. The remaining one percent is found in your body fluids and cells.

“Boning up” on calcium is actually a life-long process — starting at conception. During the childhood and teen years, bones grow long and wide. By age 20 or so, that phase of bone building is complete. But the period of building toward peak bone mass continues until age 30 to 35. Bones become stronger and more dense — more calcium becomes part of the bone matrix.

Bones are in a constant stage of change. Because bones are living tissues, calcium gets deposited and withdrawn daily from your skeleton. So, to keep bones strong, you need to make regular calcium deposits to replace the losses.

Calcium does not work alone. It works in partnership with other nutrients, including both phosphorous and vitamin D. Vitamin D helps absorb and deposit calcium in bones and teeth, making them stronger. Phosphorous is also an important part of the structure.

If you do not consume enough calcium, or if your body does not absorb calcium adequately (such as if you lack vitamin D), your body may withdraw more calcium from your bones than you deposited.This process gradually depletes bone, leaving a void in places where calcium otherwise would be deposited; eventually making bones more porous and fragile.

After age 30 to 35, bones slowly lose minerals that give them strength. That’s a natural part of the aging process. Whatever calcium a woman has “banked” in her skeleton will be the amount in her bones when she enters menopause. During the child-bearing years, the hormone estrogen appears to protect bones. But with the onset of menopause, bone loss speeds up for women, as estrogen levels go down. If women achieve their peak bone mass as younger adults, their risk of osteoporosis, or brittle bone disease later in life is reduced.

To build up healthy bones, adequate calcium intake is one important factor. Another is adequate exercise. Regular weight-bearing physical activities, such as walking, strength-training, dancing, and tennis stimulate bone formation, triggering nerve impulses that., in turn, activate other body chemicals to deposit calcium in bones.

Beyond Bone Health
Like other nutrients, calcium has other roles besides building bones and teeth. Calcium helps muscles contract, the heart beat, the blood clot, and the nervous system send messages. These functions are vital to your health. If your food choices do not supply enough calcium to do this work, your body withdraws calcium from your bones.

Calcium may also offer some protection from other health problems that often show up in the middle years: high blood pressure, heart disease, kidney stones, and if you are at high risk, possibly colon cancer.

Recommended Dietary Allowances (RDA) for Calcium
How much calcium do you need? That depends on your age and your stage of life. The RDA is 1,200 milligrams of calcium a day for teenagers and adults through age 24. After that, men and women are advised to consume about 800 milligrams of calcium a day. Pregnancy and breastfeeding require additional amounts.

Calcium Supplements: Bone Builders?
For people of every age, food choices can supply an adequate amount of calcium. However, as an extra safeguard, many doctors also recommend calcium supplements especially for menopausal and post¬menopausal women to help slow bone loss that comes with hormonal changes. And if you are advised to take calcium supplements, keep these pointers in mind:
1. Read the label. Over the counter supplements are not the same. The amount of calcium differs among products. Avoid calcium supplements with dolomite or bone meal (ground up cow’s bones). They might contain lead and other metals.
2. Take calcium supplements as intended — as a supplement, not as your only source of calcium. Although calcium supplements may boost calcium intake, they do not provide other nutrients your bones need —vitamin D, magnesium, phosphorus, and boron. For example, milk provides vitamin D, a nutrient which helps deposit calcium in your bones.
3. If you take both calcium and iron supplements, take them at different times of the day. They will be absorbed better when taken on their own.
4. Drink plenty of fluids with calcium supplements to avoid constipation. If you take your calcium supplement with milk, the lactose and vitamin D in the milk can help enhance absorption of calcium.
5. Remember that using supplements as a substitute for food sources can give you a false sense of security. Calcium supplements can not make up for your lifestyle choices or for overall poor health habits either. Regular physical activity is important for healthy bones. Also, avoid smoking.

Foods High and Low in Calcium
High: Dried and fresh dills; dried and fresh alamang; salmon, sardines and anchovies; dried fish, shellfish and crustaceans, certain fresh fishes such as silinyasi, tunsoy; milk, cheese, ice cream; soybeans, mongo and other dried beans; broccoli, bok choy, dark leafy green vegetables such as kale, mustard, turnip greens.

Low: Cereal and cereal products without milk, fruit and fruit juices, succulent vegetables, lean meat, poultry, sugars, starchy roots and tubers, young coconut.

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