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Calcium and vitamin D: diet is your best source.

Calcium is an essential mineral for bone health, metabolism, and muscle function. A recent study suggests that dietary calcium is healthiest, and that women who take calcium supplements may even have a slightly higher risk of heart disease. With that in mind, many patients are looking to increase their dietary intake of calcium and vitamin D to avoid the need for supplements.

Dairy products have always been the dietary mainstay for calcium. For patients with lactose intolerance, it is more challenging to find food sources of calcium. Good options for high-impact foods that contain calcium include sardines and tofu; both also provide plenty of protein, and sardines are rich in healthy, omega-3 fatty acids. Acorn squash and sweet potatoes contain calcium, and they are high in beta-carotene, a nutrient that supports eye health. Almonds provide calcium as well as protein, fiber, and healthy fats, but they are high in calories, so limit your portion to about one-quarter cup. Many foods are also fortified with added calcium, such as orange juice and cereals, and many cereals also contain added iron, as well as other vitamins and minerals.

Non-dairy sources of vitamin D are cold-water fatty fish, including salmon, halibut, mackerel, swordfish, and trout, which are all excellent sources of protein and omega-3 fatty acids as well. Many instant oatmeals also contain added calcium and vitamin D. Ask your doctor to check your vitamin D level to verify that you are getting an adequate amount.

Finally, undergo bone density tests periodically to be sure your bone integrity is good, especially in the first 10 years of menopause (typically, age 50 to 60). By eating foods rich in caclium and vitamin D, you can boost your bone health and reduce your risk of fractures.



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Author:Etingin, Orli R.
Publication:Women's Health Advisor
Date:Oct 1, 2015
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