Getting Calcium and Counting Calories

Calcium is an important mineral for bone health. Most of us reach our peak bone mass by our late 20's, after which we slowly start to lose calcium from our bones. An adequate calcium intake is vital throughout our lifespan. The daily calcium requirement for an adult is between 700 and 1000mg per day.

All milk has the same amount of calcium, regardless of whether it's skimmed, 1% fat, semi-skimmed or whole. In fact, skimmed milk has slightly more calcium!

If you can't eat dairy, then soya products are an excellent, lactose-free, alternative. Soya milk is fortified with at least as much calcium as milk, and, if you opt for the 'light' version is as low calorie as skimmed milk. It's also fortified with vitamin D (also important for strong bones) and soya products can help to maintain healthy cholesterol levels too.

Try to aim for approximately 3 portions of dairy per day. Use the guide below to total your calcium for the day.

Average portion size Calcium content (mg) Calorie content (kcal)
Glass of skimmed milk 200ml 244 64
Glass of semi-skimmed milk 200ml 240 92
Glass of light soya milk 200ml 244 44
Glass of original soya milk 200ml 240 76
1 small pot soya strawberry yogurt 125g 150 91
1 small pot of diet fruit yogurt 125g 163 59
1 matchbox size piece of cheddar 30g 222 125
1 serving reduced fat cottage cheese 1 tablespoon (40g) 51 32
Parmesan cheese 14g (1tbsp.) 144 58
Tinned sardines in tomato sauce 100g (approx. 1 tin) 430 162
Tofu 60g 306 44
Spinach 90g 153 23
Broccoli 85g 34 20
Wholemeal bread 2 medium slices 72g 134 149

Add a tablespoon of parmesan cheese or a generous handful of spinach to pasta, salad or a sandwich.

Choose mature cheeses, they taste stronger so you will need less of them.

Try some pancakes with a fruity filling or a fruit smoothie as an 'on the go' breakfast.

Why not add some fruit to custard made with skimmed milk for a sweet treat or add some skimmed milk to mashed potato.

Try soya products as a calcium-rich dairy alternative. You can buy soya cream and dessert products which are ideal as a treat for pud that's not too high in saturated fat.

What else can you do for good bone health, aside from consuming adequate calcium in my diet?

Vitamin D helps the body to absorb calcium. Sunlight is our main source of vitamin D. Weight bearing exercise can help to strengthen your bones. Examples of weight bearing exercise include walking and running. Swimming is not a form of weight bearing exercise.

So getting out into that sunshine for a nice walk will not only help to burn calories but it may also help your bones.
Best wishes, Steve