Nutrition, especially calcium, plays an important role in preventing osteoporosis. In people who have healthy bones, adequate calcium intake on a daily basis is necessary to maintain bone health. For older adults, studies have shown that adequate calcium intake can slow bone loss and lower the risk of fracture. Protein is another important nutrient for building and repairing body tissues, including bones.
Canada’s Food Guide provides recommendations for Canadians at various ages to ensure they get the nutrients they need. For those who are lactose intolerant or who have a milk allergy, options such as calcium-fortified soy, almond and rice beverages, calcium-fortified orange juice and canned salmon or sardines are great calcium-rich alternatives. However, it is important to note that the calcium in soy beverage is absorbed at the rate of 75% of milk and to benefit from the calcium in canned salmon, the bones must be consumed.
Not all food sources that list calcium as a nutrient are absorbed by the body. The calcium in some foods, such as sesame seeds, rhubarb, swiss chard and spinach is not well absorbed because of their very high oxalate content, which binds the calcium. They have other nutrients, but are not a good source of calcium when calculating your daily intake.