Calcium is one of those nutrients we know we need enough of (to support bone health, among other things) yet often fall short on. For example, many people may avoid milk due either to issues like lactose intolerance or as a result of the mixed messages regarding dairy products, especially those made with whole milk. However, there are plenty of non-dairy sources of calcium available, even if they’re not as heavily advertised or scrutinized. You can easily reach for soy or almond milk, but certain vegetables like broccoli, kale, and other leafy greens are also high in calcium. For those who still have a hard time incorporating calcium-rich foods, it’s very easy to take a calcium supplement.
However, a study published in the Journal of the American Dietetic Association* shows that Americans may not be getting enough calcium, despite the fact that intake tends to increase as we age.
The study, which analyzed data from over 9,000 people, revealed that 51 percent of people 19 and older reported taking a calcium supplement. In men, supplement use rose from 34 percent in the 19-30 group to 54 percent in the 81+ group. In women, the numbers across these age groups rose from 42 percent to 64 percent.
Something else the researchers looked at was energy intake over time, as people tend to eat less food—and therefore less calcium—as they age. Men’s energy intake decline 35 percent between the youngest to oldest age group and in women, intake decreased by 28 percent. It was shown that even with high rates of supplementation, the oldest age group did not meet calcium requirements.
*Source: Journal of the American Dietetic Association
Volume 111, Issue 5, Pages 687-695, doi: 10.1016/j.jada.2011.02.014
“Calcium Intake in the United States from Dietary and Supplemental Sources across Adult Age Groups: New Estimates from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey 2003-2006”
Authors: K.M. Mangano, S.J. Walsh, K.L. Insogna, A.M. Kenny, J.E. Kerstetter