Milk: It Does Do a Body Good
Only one-quarter of American adults eat enough calcium-rich foods to meet their daily recommended intake for this mineral, which is 1,000 mg for adults (and bumps up to 1,200 mg after age 50). You know you need calcium for strong, osteoporosis-resistant bones, but getting plenty of this mineral also helps keep blood pressure in check, improves cholesterol numbers, makes preeclampsia in pregnancy less likely, and reduces the risk of colon cancer. As if that weren't enough of an incentive to pour a glass of skim milk, new research recently discovered that a woman's body fat goes down as her calcium intake goes up.
Most people get the majority of their dietary calcium from dairy foods, but other potential calcium sources include tofu (check the label to make sure it was processed with calcium), calcium-enriched orange juice, sardines or salmon canned with bones, baked beans, almonds, kale, broccoli, or bok choy. However, even with a healthy diet, you might want to consider a calcium supplement for extra insurance.
Get the most out of calcium supplements by taking each pill with a meal; you can only absorb a certain amount of calcium at a time and food tends to improve calcium's absorption. There are many forms of calcium supplements you can choose and they'll all help boost your body's calcium stores. Calcium carbonate tends to be a popular choice since it's inexpensive. Some calcium carbonate supplements don't dissolve quickly enough to be usable by the body, however. To check yours, simply put a tablet in a half cup of vinegar and stir occasionally. It should be completely dissolved after thirty minutes.
If you take iron supplements, don't take your calcium and iron pills at the same time because they compete for absorption. Calcium supplements cause gas or constipation in a small number of people; if you're affected this way, try a few different forms to find one that strengthens your bones without taxing your tummy.