Low-calcium diets may be used to treat hypercalcemia, which is the presence of too much calcium in the bloodstream. Your doctor may prescribe a low-calcium diet as an adjunct to other medical treatment for hypercalcemia. Because calcium is so important in bone strength and osteoporosis prevention, never undertake a low-calcium diet without a doctor’s recommendation and supervision.
Hypercalcemia is typically secondary to some other type of illness such as abnormal parathyroid function, hyperthyroidism, kidney failure, adrenal failure, inflammatory diseases, excess vitamin D intake and excess dairy intake. Hypercalcemia may lead to muscular atrophy and twitching, mental and psychological problems, kidney stones and bone pain. If you suspect you are hypercalcemic, talk to your doctor. Your doctor may prescribe a low calcium diet in conjunction with other treatments in order to treat hypercalcemia.
Low-Calcium Diets for Kidney Stones
A commonly held belief is that low-calcium diets will treat kidney stones, which are primarily made of calcium oxalate; however, recent studies have shown that lowering calcium intake will not prevent or dissolve kidney stones. Kidney stones are a serious medical condition that requires intervention by a medical professional. Never self-treat with a low-calcium diet unless it has been recommended or supervised by your doctor.
Dairy products are high in calcium. Fortified dairy products also contain high levels of vitamin D, which enhances calcium absorption. If your doctor has placed you on a low-calcium diet, avoid all dairy products like yogurt, cheese, milk, ice cream and kefir. Also avoid any processed foods that contain large amounts of dairy such as cream-based sauces and soups.
Many products have been fortified with calcium and vitamin D. Avoid calcium-fortified foods like orange juice, instant oatmeal, breakfast cereal, calcium-fortified breads and soy milk. Many breakfast foods have been fortified, like cereals, frozen waffles and juices. Read labels carefully to determine whether or not a food has been calcium fortified.
Other High-Calcium Foods
You may wish to avoid or minimize many other high-calcium foods. Foods that are high in calcium include salmon, tofu, sardines, spinach, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, navy beans, bok choy, almonds, rhubarb, turnip greens, sesame seeds, white beans, kale, corn tortillas, mustard greens and oysters. Read labels to determine calcium levels in processed foods if you need to minimize calcium in your diet. If you take a multivitamin supplement, check to make sure it doesn't include calcium as one of its ingredients.