Formula increases breastfeeding success for small newborns: study
Johanna Griggs: I'm a great believer in Chinese medicine
Man flu is a myth: Australian scientists
'Healthy' fruit juice is damaging our kids teeth, dentists warn
Ways to boost your calcium intake
Recent studies have shown that up to 85 percent of the population do not get sufficient calcium in their diets. Calcium is a mineral that is essential for building strong, healthy bones and teeth, and for preventing gum disease – osteoporosis, or brittle bone disease, is a condition that may develop in later life if insufficient calcium is absorbed. And, contrary to popular belief, it’s not just women and children who need to up their intake: one in three osteoporosis sufferers is male.
Here’s how to get more calcium in your diet:
- Try and have at least one glass of skim milk each day (three is enough for your entire calcium intake). If you don’t like milk, try disguising the taste in a smoothie or milkshake, or have a hot chocolate before bed. Give the kids a treat by adding marshmallows.
- Look for calcium-fortified brands – soy milk and orange juice often come with extra calcium. Just check the label. There are even some brands of fortified water around.
- For a light dessert, have a yoghurt or, as a treat, a small helping of ice-cream. Be inventive – have yoghurt on chopped-up fruit, or make a rice pudding for those comfort food moments.
- Incorporate foods that are rich in calcium into your cooking. Add a handful of sesame seeds to a stir-fry, use plenty of leafy green vegetables, and try to have fish such as halibut or mackerel at least once a week.
- Have cereal for breakfast instead of toast or pastries. Adding a small handful of hazelnuts, almonds, walnuts or brazil nuts can also boost calcium levels.
- Make cheese on toast for a quick evening snack – top with Worcestershire sauce or yeast extract to pep it up. Or for an easy evening meal, have a baked potato with cheese or cottage cheese and some leafy green salad.
- Pack salads for lunch that include leafy vegies such as spinach and lightly steamed broccoli or, for lunch on the run, grab some sushi. The nori (seaweed wrapping) and fish are high in calcium.
- Some calcium types are less easy to absorb than others, and so more of that food type may need to be eaten to get the same amount of calcium. Dairy products are easy to absorb, while vegies and seeds are less easy. Up your intake of both. If you don’t eat or are allergic to dairy, eat plenty of natural calcium sources and take a good calcium supplement.
- Vitamin D is shown to improve calcium absorption, so make sure you have sufficient dietary intake. Vitamin D is found in fatty fish such as mackerel, in cod liver oil or in some fortified cereal and dairy products. A 15-minute sunbake a day will also produce adequate vitamin D – but make sure you wear sunblock!
- Equally important to strong bones is weight-bearing exercise. Regular exercise increases bone density by making them ‘work harder’. Any form of exercise where your legs and feet carry your weight is helpful – try running, walking, hiking, dancing or just getting off the bus a couple of stops sooner on your way to work.
- Cut down on alcohol, caffeine and cigarettes! These substances actually strip calcium from our bodies – so cut down or, at the very least, max out your calcium intake to help combat the negative effects. Nutritionists advise that no more than two cups of coffee or fizzy drinks and no more than two units of alcohol are advisable a day. Men can have up to three alcoholic drinks a day.