Five ways to boost your calcium intake

Two in three Australians over the age of 50 have poor bone health, osteoporosis (brittle bones due to bone loss) or osteopenia (decreased bone density) and by 2022, 6.2 million Australians over the age of 50 are predicted to be affected.

The latest Australian Health Survey shows that most Australians aren’t getting enough calcium with nine out of 10 adults missing out on the dairy food group. Milk, cheese and yogurt all provide a convenient and readily absorbable source of calcium, contributing over 40 per cent of the calcium we eat.

Calcium intake is a bit like saving your dollars and cents for a worthy investment in the future - an investment in helping prevent bone fractures, given the natural ‘decay’ of the skeleton as we age.

The latest study from the Garvan Institute of Medical Research shows that once you fracture a bone as a result of poor bone health, the risk of breaking another bone doubles in women, and increases three-to-four-fold in men. There is also a strong link between all major fractures and premature death.

Calcium needs increase during our different life stages like adolescence and for middle-aged women who need four serves per day from the dairy food group to meet higher calcium requirements due to lower estrogen levels and accelerated bone loss at menopause.

To include 4 serves of dairy per day in your diet if you’re a woman over 50 (or 2.5 if you’re under 50), it’s useful to understand what makes up a serve:

  • ·one glass of milk (250 ml)
  • 3/4 of a cup of yoghurt (200 g)
  • two slices of cheese (40 g)
  • ½ cup ricotta cheese (120g)

As a comparison, to get the same amount of calcium as one serve of dairy, you would need to eat 32 Brussels sprouts, 21 cups of raw chopped spinach, five cups of cooked broccoli or one cup of dry roasted almonds. Not very achievable!

cereal and milk

Here are five much easier and delicious ways to boost your calcium intake from breakfast to lunch and dinner:

  1. Include yoghurt on your breakfast cereal.
  2. Spread ricotta cheese on a salad sandwich.
  3. Have a smoothie or milkshake for afternoon tea.
  4. Replace half the stock with milk in a risotto.
  5. Mix together spreadable cream cheese and vanilla yogurt, then layer onto a meringue and berries for a delectable dessert.

And there’s always good value in grabbing another café latte during the day.

This year’s Healthy Bones Action Week is highlighting the three simple actions that combined can help maintain healthy bones – increased dairy consumption for calcium, weight bearing exercise for bone strength, and safe sun exposure for vitamin D production necessary for calcium absorption.

To kick-start some healthy bone habits, women aged 50 plus are encouraged to register for the free Fit, Fab & 50 Challenge by clicking here and receive an online copy of a free Fit, Fab & 50 Cookbook. Sixty great prizes are also on offer including a Michael Kors designer handbag.

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