Count Up Your Calcium

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Calcium is important for good health – it keeps your bones strong, helps control high blood pressure and may play a role in weight control. But do you know if you are getting enough calcium? Use the chart below to count up the calcium in your diet. First, think about what you ate and drank yesterday at all meals and snacks. Now look at the foods in each column below and write the number of servings you had in the box provided. (For example, if you drank 1-1/2 cups of milk, put down 1.5 next to milk.) Next, add up the numbers for each column. Then, multiply these numbers as directed. Finally, add up the total from each column for your personal calcium count and see how you scored!

***Foods that provide about 30% or more of the daily value for calcium:
___ Skim or 1% milk or calcium-fortified soymilk (1 cup)
___ Lowfat/fat-free yogurt (8 oz)
___ Lowfat buttermilk (1 cup)
___ Calcium-fortified orange juice (8 oz)
___ Reduced-fat, shredded cheddar or mozzarella cheese (1/4 cup)
___ Total® cereal – give yourself three points for every serving on this one (3/4 cup)
_____ (subtotal)
_____ (subtotal multiplied times 3)

**Foods that provide about 20% of the daily value for calcium:
___ Cheese (1 oz)
___ Reduced-fat cheese singles (1 slice)
___ Salmon, canned with bones
(3 oz)
___ Kale, cooked (1 cup)
___ Soybeans or white beans, cooked (1 cup)
___ Pudding with milk (1/2 cup)
___ Lowfat blueberry muffin from calcium-fortified mix (1)
_____ (subtotal)
_____ (subtotal multiplied times 2)

*Foods that provide about 10% of the daily value for calcium:
___ Beans, cooked (1 cup)
___ Calcium-fortified cereal (1/2 cup)
___ Dried figs (4)
___ Light ice cream (1/2 cup)
___ Fat-free or lowfat cottage cheese (1/2 cup)
___ Light string cheese (1 piece)
___ Fat-free American cheese singles (1 slice)
___ I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter!® Sweet Cream & Calcium (1 Tbsp)
_____ (subtotal)

_____ (Total of all three columns)
Scoring (for adults):
• 10+ points = Excellent! Keep up the good work; eat plenty of fruits and vegetables.
• 8-9 points = Great! Your calcium intake is high. Adding a 2- or 3-star food will boost your calcium count.
• 6-7 points = Good! You’re off to a good start. Add at least one 3-star food to improve your calcium intake.
• 4-5 points = Just about halfway there! Add at least two 3-star foods to get that calcium into your diet.
• 3 or fewer points = Get to work! The easiest way to get the calcium your body needs is to eat at least three 3-star foods daily.

How much calcium do YOU need?
Age 19-50 yrs 1,000 mg
Older than 50 yrs 1,200 mg
Age 9-18 yrs 1,300 mg
Age 4-8 yrs 800 mg
Age 1-3 yrs 500 mg

Calcium facts
• “High in calcium,” “rich in calcium” or “excellent source of calcium” means that the food provides at least 20% of the daily value of calcium (at least 200 mg).
• “Good source of calcium” or “contains/provides calcium” means that the food provides 10 to 19% of the daily value of calcium (100-190 mg).
• The upper limit for calcium is set at 2500 mg.

By Hollis Bass, MEd, RD

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