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Calcium Needs

Calcium Needs

By Dietitian, Juliette Kellow BSc RD

There’s a very good reason why milk is usually included in most diet plans. Together with other dairy products including yoghurt and cheese, it’s packed with protein, vitamins and minerals, especially calcium, which is needed for strong bones and teeth. In fact, good intakes of calcium, particularly in childhood, the teenage years and early adulthood can help reduce your risk of developing osteoporosis (brittle bone disease) in later life, a condition that currently affects one woman in three and one man in 12 over the age of 50.

Fortunately, reduced-fat dairy products contain just as much calcium, if not a little more, than full-fat products, making them an important part of a slimming diet.

Good non-dairy sources of calcium include fish where the bones are eaten such as canned sardines and mackerel, white bread (white flour is fortified with calcium), green leafy vegetables such as broccoli, nuts, seeds, beans, dried fruit and oranges. Fortunately, many of these foods also tend to be low in calories and so can easily be incorporated into a sliming diet. As you’re currently avoiding dairy products, you should make sure you eat plenty of these foods. However, it’s worth bearing in mind that the body more easily absorbs the calcium in milk and dairy products than the calcium in most other food.

For good health, the Department of Health recommends that adults consume 700mg calcium each day. The chart below shows the calorie and calcium content of a variety of foods. Use this chart to help you meet your calcium requirements, without blowing your calorie allowance.

Calorie and calcium content of selected food

Food

Calories

Calcium (mg)

125g can sardines in tomato sauce

221

575

300ml skimmed milk

99

360

300ml semi-skimmed milk

138

360

150g pot low-fat natural yoghurt

84

285

150g pot low-fat fruit yoghurt

126

225

25g chunk reduced-fat Cheddar cheese

65

210

200g can baked beans

168

106

60g peeled prawns

64

90

100g cooked spring greens

20

75

1 orange

59

75

100g reduced-fat cottage cheese

78

73

2 slices white bread

156

72

1tbsp sesame seeds

60

67

2 slices wholemeal bread

155

39

90g cooked broccoli

22

36

50g bag unsalted peanuts

282

30

3 dried apricots

38

18

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