You need calcium for good bone health, but its benefits extend beyond strong bones: your heart, muscles, and nerves also rely on calcium to function. There is even evidence to suggest that calcium, in conjunction with vitamin D, protects the body against such ills as high blood pressure, diabetes, and cancer.
Government-approved PACE programs which include meals as well as nutritional counseling, help seniors ensure they get the nutrition they need to stay healthy enough to live in their own homes. At Beacon of LIFE, in Oceanport, NJ, we are proud to provide the care and services that allow people who would otherwise need to live in a nursing home to live where they want — in their own communities, in their own homes.
How Much Calcium Do You Need?
The recommended dietary allowance (RDA) of calcium for men up to age 70 is 1000 mg per day. Women need that much until age 50. For men over 70 and older and women over 50, the RDA for calcium jumps to 1200 mg per day.
What Are the Best Sources of Calcium?
The best way to get calcium is through your diet. Dairy products are well-known as excellent sources of calcium, but dark leafy greens are also rich in this essential nutrient.
However, eating calcium-rich foods is not enough by itself; in order to metabolize the calcium, you also need vitamin D. Because of this, almost all milk available on the market is fortified with Vitamin D. Vitamin D is also found in egg yolks, canned salmon that contains bones, and from exposure to the sun. Deficiencies in Vitamin D are increasing as people have become more cautious about excessive exposure to the sun.
Who Is at Risk for Calcium Deficiency?
Depending on your diet, you may have trouble getting enough calcium in your diet. Speak to your doctor about calcium supplementation if you:
- Have a high protein or high sodium diet. High amounts of protein or sodium have been shown to prevent the body from absorbing calcium.
- Follow a vegan diet, which excludes many high-calcium foods.
- Are lactose intolerant, or have some other reason to avoid dairy products.
Certain medications and health conditions also prevent proper absorption of calcium. You may require calcium supplementation if you:
- Have inflammatory bowel disease, celiac disease, or another gastrointestinal disorder that prevents the absorption of calcium
- Are prescribed long-term corticosteroids
You Can Get Too Much of a Good Thing!
If you do need calcium supplements, you need to be careful to take the right amount. Too much calcium has been associated with prostate cancer in men, and with heart disease in both mean and women. Unless advised otherwise by your doctor, the maximum amount of calcium you should get is 2000 mg per day.
Beacon of LIFE maintains an interdisciplinary team of professionals who give each client the coordinated care they need. Our staff specialize in working with older people, and work with each client and their family to develop the most effective plan of care.