Calcium is an important nutrient for health, especially for bone health. The National Osteoporosis Foundation recommends 1,000 milligrams of calcium per day for adults under 50 and 1,200 milligrams for those over 50. Although the Foundation suggests you consume calcium from food rather than supplements, some items in your diet may be taking your calcium out of your body. More research is needed on this topic. Consult your doctor to help you determine your calcium needs and your diet.
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The Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine explains that it is normal for some calcium to leave your bones, pass through your kidneys and exit your body with your urine. However, if you consume excess salt, too much calcium can be lost via the kidneys. The Committee recommends not consuming more than 1 to 2 grams of sodium each day to prevent excess calcium loss. Salt can be hidden in pre-packaged foods, luncheon meats, soups and canned foods. Check ingredients and can labels for sodium content.
Another food that can leach calcium out of your bones is protein from animal sources, including meat, seafood, eggs and dairy. The Physicians Committee suggests ingesting protein from plant sources instead, as they have not been found to leach calcium. Although some sources recommend ingesting dairy for calcium, the Physicians Committee cites a longitudinal study by Harvard University which found that women who drank more milk had more bone fractures than those who drank less, as well as other studies with similar findings. The committee argues that you do need calcium, but that dairy may not be the best source. Other sources, including the National Osteoporosis Foundation, maintain that dairy does not leach calcium. The differences may be related to the amount of dairy consumed. More research is needed.
The Osteoporosis Research Center reports that caffeine can leach small amounts of calcium out of your body. Its study examined carbonated beverages, which are often thought to leach calcium from the bones. However, they discovered calcium was only leached by those carbonated beverages containing caffeine. The amount of calcium taken from the body by caffeine was small, and the researchers found that additional calcium in the diet could make up for it. Along with carbonated beverages, caffeine is found in energy drinks and chocolate.