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Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Drinking milk isn't the only way to strengthen your bones. Check out these calcium-rich foods.

Nearly 10 million Americans are living with dangerously fragile bones that are susceptible to breaks and fractures, according to the National Osteoporosis Foundation. But as it turns out, osteoporosis is preventable. The first step is incorporating the recommended daily amounts of calcium and vitamin D into your diet. And if the thought of drinking milk makes you cringe, you'll be happy to learn that milk isn't the only thing that does a body good. Read on for seven little-known sources.

Boning Up

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) suggests that adults ages 31 to 50 get 1,000 milligrams of calcium and 400 to 800 international units (IUs) of vitamin D a day. For those 51 and older, 1,200 milligrams of calcium and 800 to 1,000 IUs of vitamin D a day is recommended. To get your recommended daily amounts, check out these bone-enhancing foods.

Nuts. Most people don't envision nuts when they think of calcium, but by replacing snacks such as potato chips or cookies with a handful of pistachios or brazil nuts, you'll be doing your bones-and your waistline-a favor. One 100-gram serving contains 140 to 180 milligrams of calcium, while the same amount of almonds packs up to 250 milligrams.
Fish. It isn't just brain food; it does wonders for your bones, too. According to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), one 3.5-ounce portion of salmon or mackerel contains 360 IUs of vitamin D (up to 90 percent of your RDA) and 181 milligrams of calcium. For a more convenient option, 2 ounces of canned sardines provides 250 IUs of vitamin D and 324 milligrams of calcium.
Oatmeal. In addition to its high fiber content, one cup of oatmeal provides up to 150 milligrams of calcium. Top it with cow's or fortified soy milk, and you'll start your day with more than a third of your recommended calcium intake.
Eggs. Two eggs contain 40 IUs of vitamin D, about 5 to 10 percent of your RDA. Just keep in mind that the vitamin is found in the yolks, so egg-white omelets won't deliver the same benefit.
Leafy Greens. As if you need yet another reason to eat your veggies, dark leafy greens such as kale and spinach each contain up to 100 milligrams of calcium per 1 cup serving. Take note: Although broccoli only contains about half of this amount, it actually has a higher absorption rate than spinach, which contains large amounts of oxalate, a compound that reduces calcium absorption.
Yogurt. On average, three-quarters of a cup of plain yogurt is packed with nearly 300 milligrams of calcium, with the fruit-bottom variety serving up slightly less (about 230 milligrams).
Cheese. One-and-a-half ounces of cheddar or mozzarella cheese contains more than 300 milligrams of calcium. But watch out when using it to top your pizza or burgers; cheese is also generally high in fat.


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