There are so many things to keep track of now that you are a person with diabetes. Supplies, food choices, blood glucose levels, checking your feet, are just a few of the items that are on your daily to-do list. But what about calcium? Here are a few reasons to put adequate calcium intake on your daily radar.
Why is calcium important?
“Your body needs calcium to build and maintain strong bones. Your heart, muscles and nerves also need calcium to function properly.”1 Calcium must be obtained through the diet because our bodies do not make it on their own. If we do not get enough calcium, we are at risk for health issues such as porous bones that easily break, and even stunted growth in children.
How much calcium do I need?
The recommended daily allowance for calcium varies by gender and age. Women ages 19-70 need 1,000 mg daily. Women aged 71+ need even more at 1,200 mg per day. Men ages 19-50 need 1,000 mg and the amount goes up to 1,200 mg at age 51+.1
Where do I get calcium from in my diet?
Here are some good sources of calcium:
Now that you are more aware of your carbohydrate intake, you may be eating less dairy than you once were. Milk, yogurt, and ice cream all contain varying amounts of carbohydrates. Cheese is the dairy exception as it has little to no carbohydrates and higher fat content. Cheese is a great option for meeting your daily calcium needs. You can also try dairy substitutes such as almond, soy, and oat-based milk products that are often fortified with calcium to contain close to the same amount as milk would provide. Read your nutrition labels to know what your products are providing.
If you are lactose intolerant or have a hard time with milk substitutes, there are other alternatives to meeting your calcium needs. Dark, leafy greens such as broccoli, spinach, and kale are great options to help meet your requirements. Fish with edible bones such as canned salmon and sardines also contain calcium. You can also check your grocery store for calcium-fortified products such as drinks, and even energy bars.
You may think it would be easiest to just take a calcium supplement every day to make sure you are getting what your body needs without having to worry about your food choices containing adequate calcium. Supplementation is another option. There are many different supplements, some containing vitamin D along with the calcium. Speak with your physician and he or she can help you to better decide what amount and product is best for you.
Too much calcium can be harmful
It is possible to get too much calcium, which can also be harmful. Again, speak with your physician to make sure your supplemental intake is appropriate.
Have you experienced any complications associated with your diabetes?