New Delhi: According to a recently launched global map of dietary calcium intake, Indian adults consume only half the amount of calcium required for healthy bones. Launched by the International Osteoporosis Foundation, it indicates that the average calcium intake is only 429 mg per day against the requirement of 800 to 1000 mg per day.
There is a need to create awareness about the effects of not taking in enough dietary calcium. Calcium is a major component of bones, accounting for about 30% to 35% of the mass and strength. Low calcium intake has been linked to lower bone-mineral density, which increases the risk of osteoporosis and broken bones.
Dr KK Aggarwal, President of an NGO called Heart Care Foundation of India said, “The calcium intake of a person varies at each stage of life. The requirements are especially high in the teenage years due to the rapid growth of the skeleton, and at older age, when the body’s ability to absorb calcium declines. In older adults, there is bone loss at the rate of about 1% per year, resulting in calcium loss of approximately 15 g per year.”
“Bones are empty and in a typically adult male, the whole skeleton weighs less than 3 kg. Everyone builds bone up to the age of 30, and then, the process of bone resorption begins. It is, therefore, important for children to build strong bones so that they are not susceptible to fractures when they grow old,” he said.
The most widely available calcium supplements are calcium carbonate and calcium citrate. Calcium carbonate is cheapest. Calcium carbonate absorption is better when taken with meals; in comparison, calcium citrate is well absorbed in the fasting state. Calcium carbonate is also poorly absorbed in patients taking proton pump inhibitors (PPIs) or H2 blockers. One usually recommends calcium citrate as a first-line calcium supplement in these patients.
Adding further, Dr Aggarwal said, “Adequate calcium intake comes from milk, curd and paneer. Ideally one should take a glass of milk in the morning and a glass of milk in the evening and curd and paneer in the afternoon for adequate calcium intake. Calcium is also present in pulses such as Black gram – urad daal and sesame seeds. Calcium is also present in chuna taken with paan but it may not be a completely absorbable form of calcium.”
Some more tips from HCFI
- It is important to get enough Vitamin D as it helps in the absorption of calcium.
- Some sources of this vitamin include milk, fortified orange juice, mushrooms, and egg yolk.
- Get enough physical activity for about 30 minutes each day. There are exercises that can help increase bone strength and improve balance and coordination.
- Limit the intake of caffeine as this can decrease the absorption of calcium
- If you smoke or drink, it is a good idea to quit both these habits.