Calcium Diet: Reasons You Must Stick With Dairy And Other Foods

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Lack of calcium in our daily diet can be detrimental to the strength of the bone, says the National Osteoporosis Society.

Due to increased risk of Osteoporosis (bone weakness), a survey conducted by the charity group raises alarm over a cut in consumption of dairy foods, especially among adults.

The group who surveyed 2,000 adults, including 239 people under the age of 25 and 339 people aged 25-35, warns that young adults are putting their health at risk by following certain diet plans. It said cutting out dairy can be healthy if enough calcium is consumed from other sources, such as nuts, seeds and fish.

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Dairy Food

It is general knowledge that milk, cheese and yoghurt, are important sources of calcium for strong bones. But there are concerns that many people become too restrictive about what they eat in order to maintain a slim figure. Some people even claim they have an intolerance to cow’s milk and dairy products when their condition had not actually been diagnosed by a doctor.

Prof Susan Lanham-New, head of nutritional science at the University of Surrey and clinical advisor to the National Osteoporosis Society said:

“Diet in early adulthood is so important because by the time we get into our late 20s it is too late to reverse the damage caused by poor diet and nutrient deficiencies and the opportunity to build strong bones has passed.”

Foods Rich in Calcium and Recommended Levels

  • Dairy products are the main source of calcium – for example, milk, cheese and yoghurt
  • Cow’s milk is the best source, but soya and almond milk may also contain calcium if they are fortified
  • Skimmed and semi-skimmed milk contain more calcium than full-fat cow’s milk
  • Vegetables, nuts, seeds, fish and white flour products also contain calcium
  • Choose low-fat cheese and yoghurt to cut down on fat intake, although crisps and biscuits contain much more fat

For adults, 700mg of calcium per day is recommended but boys and girls between 11 and 18 need up to 1000mg.

Accord to the osteoporosis charity, the recommended level, can be achieved through the following:

  • Eating three portions of dairy a day, such as cereal with milk, a yoghurt and a small chunk of cheddar cheese.
  • Consuming foods rich in calcium and vitamin D, such as dairy products, green leafy vegetables, salmon, sardines, broccoli and baked beans, is particularly important before the age of 25.

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The charity group urges parents to talk to their children about their diet. As for adults, after the age of 50, half of all women and one in five men develop osteoporosis – which results in painful fractures of the hip, wrist and spine. Other diet habits detrimental to healthy bones include:

  • Smoking
  • Lack of exercise
  • consuming fizzy drinks high in acid.

A spokeswoman for the British Nutrition Foundation said:

“While it’s not necessarily dangerous to cut out dairy from your diet it’s important to ensure you get enough calcium from other sources.

“Dairy tends to make the biggest contribution to our calcium intakes and so this needs to be replaced by other sources such as bread, cereal, canned fish, nuts, seeds and leafy green vegetables as well as choosing dairy alternatives that are fortified with calcium.”

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