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Is Calcium the New Magic Bullet?

New research suggests that upping your calcium intake can help you lose fat
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Getting the Calcium You Need -- Even When Lactose Intolerant

And food, instead of supplements, is the best way to get your recommended calcium. Food has the advantage of not only giving you the mineral calcium but all the other nutritious substances food contains, such as phytochemicals, fiber, vitamins, and minerals.

Because calcium-rich diets are essential in treating and managing many conditions, it's imperative that dieters, especially women, maximize their intake of such foods. A few calcium sources include dark leafy greens (spinach, kale), almonds, sesame seeds, salmon, and fortified foods (orange juice).

Pumping up your calcium, boosting it to at least three servings a day, is easy. Try these:

  • enjoy a yogurt smoothie
  • eat a fresh fruit and yogurt parfait for breakfast or dessert
  • drink skim milk on ice with your meals
  • coffee lovers: make cafe au lait with strong coffee and warm skim milk
  • fill an ice cube tray with flavored milk and insert Popsicle sticks for a delicious treat
  • munch on part-skim mozzarella cheese sticks

But what if you're severely lactose intolerant and can't handle even the smallest amounts of lactose or suffer from an age-related decline in your lactose tolerance? The good news is that your body can adapt to lactose with consumption of small amounts of dairy foods eaten with other foods. Here are a few tips that could help increase your calcium intake without the painful side effects:

  • consume smaller quantities of dairy more often
  • consume dairy with food
  • eat diary with lower amounts of lactose, such as yogurt and hard cheeses
  • use lactose-free or reduced-lactose products
  • try supplemental enzymes

How much calcium do you need?

Calcium Recommendations

The National Academy of Science, which revised its recommendations in 2001, advocates the following calcium consumption:

Males & Females 19-50 1,000 mg/day
Females 51-70+ 1,200 mg/day
Pregnant & Lactating 1,000 mg/day

WebMD Weight Loss Clinic Plan

When filling out your WebMD Weight Loss questionnaire, be sure to indicate your ability to tolerate dairy foods so that we prescribe at least 1,000mg/day in your eating plan. Plenty of calcium in your plan allows you the wonderful opportunity to enhance your weight loss while strengthening your bones and teeth.

That calcium might aid in weight loss is great news for all dieters, but especially women who are susceptible to osteoporosis. Simply by consuming three servings a day of low-fat or fat-free dairy products, you can strengthen your bones, ward off osteoporosis, maintain your muscle mass, and increase your fat loss. Additionally, if your diet is rich in fruits and vegetables, you may also prevent certain cancers and high blood pressure. A magic bullet indeed!

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Reviewed on September 17, 2004

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