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Calcium: How to get what your bones need most

Bookmark and Share It's a fact: Calcium helps prevent bone loss and osteoporosis. Therefore, medical experts recommend that every person should have at least 1,000 milligrams (mg) of calcium daily. Teenage, pregnant or lactating, and post-menopausal women need 1,500 mg. But many wonder what's the best way to get it. If you choose supplements, it's important to know there are two types — calcium citrate and calcium carbonate — that are taken different ways. "While calcium citrate can be taken any time during the day, calcium carbonate requires stomach acid for absorption and must be taken with food," explains Virtua Health rheumatologist Sheldon Solomon, MD. "People age 75 or older, or anyone taking prescription medications that reduce stomach acid, should not take calcium carbonate because they cannot effectively absorb the calcium." Also, the body can only absorb about 500 mg of calcium at one time so space your intake throughout the day. "If you want to get calcium the natural way, the best sources are dairy products like milk, yogurt or cheese," says Dr. Solomon. "This includes soy and lactose-free products." Other sources include dark green, leafy vegetables and calcium-fortified foods like some cereals and fruit juices. For a fact sheet on preventing osteoporosis, call 1-888-Virtua-3.