Osteoporosis and Calcium

What is Osteoporosis? 

Milk glass 

Osteoporosis is a condition that weakens bones, as a result of reduced bone density. Every day, our body loses calcium through sweat, urine, faeces, and from shedding hair, skin and nails. The loss of calcium must be replaced through dietary sources, as the body cannot produce calcium on its own. The body’s ability for bone building is determined by the level of calcium, Vitamin D and hormones it takes in. A lack of calcium and Vitamin D can eventually increase one’s risk of osteoporosis.

How much is enough? 

The recommended dietary allowance (RDA) for calcium ranges between 800 mg (for adults 19 to 50 years) to 1000 mg (for adolescents, pregnant/breastfeeding mothers, and adults 51 years and above). One should consume approximately two to three servings of dairy products or calcium-rich foods (Table 1) to meet these daily calcium recommendations.

Lactose Intolerance 

People with lactose intolerance have difficulty digesting lactose (a type of natural sugar found in dairy products). However, small amounts of milk, yogurt and aged cheeses may still be well tolerated. Alternatively, choose non-dairy sources of calcium-rich foods or calcium-fortified products (Table 1).

Sources of Vitamin D 

Vitamin D promotes calcium absorption. 15 minutes’ exposure to the sun can produce a sufficient amount of Vitamin D within the body. In addition, some foods like cod liver oil, marine fatty fish (such as salmon, mackerel, cod fish and tuna), egg yolk* and animal’s liver* contain Vitamin D. Certain products such as breakfast cereals and margarine may also be fortified with Vitamin D.

* Individuals with high cholesterol should consume these foods in moderation by limiting egg yolk to no more than two to three servings per week, and animal’s liver to no more than once a week. 

 Osteoporosis and Calcium