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Calcium has demonstrated benefits for preventing the bone loss that occurs with age, especially in women. Even if you already have osteoporosis, it's not too late to benefit from calcium. Continuing to consume plenty of calcium as you age can keep your bones from getting any thinner, and evidence suggests that you may be able to replace some lost bone density. In addition, calcium has been shown to promote muscle function, including heart health.
You can ensure adequate calcium by taking a calcium supplement (look for one with added vitamin D to promote calcium absorption) and including plenty of calcium-rich foods in your diet.
The amount of minerals and calcium that you need for good health changes over time. Premenopausal women and postmenopausal women who are taking hormone therapy should aim for 1,200 milligrams of calcium daily. Postmenopausal women who aren't taking hormone therapy and any adults older than 65 years should take even more—1,500 milligrams daily. But remember that the body absorbs calcium best in smaller doses (of 500 milligrams or less). So if you are taking 1,000 milligrams per day, it's best to split the dose and take it twice daily.
And there's another reason for older women to take calcium supplements—weight management. Data from the Women's Health Initiative, a long-term study including more than 36,000 women, showed that postmenopausal women who were not consuming adequate calcium at the start of the study but started taking 1,000 milligrams of calcium and 400 International Units of vitamin D each day were 11 percent less likely to gain weight compared with women who took placebo pills.
This doesn't mean that calcium supplements are the next great weight-loss drug. But it's one more reason why adequate calcium is important for health--to help prevent postmenopausal weight gain, which remains a problem for many women.
Nat News readers well know, the reason breast cancer and prostate cancer rates are so much higher in black women and men is because dark skin pigmentation blocks the healing UV rays that create vitamin D in the skin, thereby leaving black men and women chronically deficient in vitamin D. That deficiency, in turn, greatly boosts their rates of cancer, etc -- by nearly 500%!
|Sheri Ann Richerson|