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COPD Diet Guidelines: Protein, Calcium, Reducing Sodium, and More

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Calcium continued...

Dairy products are the main source of calcium in the American diet. People who exclude dairy products from their diets, because of allergies or by choice must choose their foods carefully to meet their calcium needs. Or they must depend on supplements. Just because a food has calcium, does not guarantee your body can absorb the calcium.

Calcium is not readily absorbed. So, osteoporosis prevention can be improved by doing weight bearing exercises such as walking, running and weight lifting.

Vitamin D is essential for calcium absorption. So a dietary source of Vitamin D is equally important. The recommended intake of Vitamin D for adults up to age 50 is 200 IU (5 mcg) per day. For individuals aged 51-70, the recommended intake of Vitamin D is 400 IU (10 mcg) per day. Daily requirements of vitamin D for people aged 70 and older is 600 IU (15 mcg). You can get Vitamin D from supplements. However, be cautious, as excess Vitamin D is toxic. An excess of Vitamin D can cause nausea, vomiting, poor appetite, constipation, weakness and weight loss. Milk, eggs, margarine and fortified cereals are good sources of this Vitamin. (Vitamin D is added to milk.) Two cups of milk can satisfy the daily adult need for Vitamin D. Other dairy products made from milk may not have Vitamin D added.

Magnesium

Magnesium is an important mineral that is involved in blood clotting, muscle contraction and protein production. It is the chemical "fuel" that makes muscles work. Also, magnesium works with calcium to regulate bronchial activity. It has an antihistamine-like effect. A low level of magnesium weakens the power of muscles. This is particularly true for the breathing muscles. For this reason, COPD patients should consume magnesium rich foods to meet the dietary recommendation. The average American consumes only three-fourths of the recommended amount of magnesium.

The recommended daily intake of magnesium for people between 19 and 30 years old is 400 mg for men and 310 mg for women. For those older than 31, the recommendations rise to 420 mg daily for men and 320 mg for women.

Magnesium is part of chlorophyll, the green pigment in plants. So dark green vegetables are natural rich sources of magnesium. Just one more important reason to "eat your vegetables!" Other sources of magnesium include whole grains, beans, peas, lentils, tofu and some seafood. Chocolate contains moderate amounts. Foods made from refined flours (like white bread) have 80 percent less magnesium than whole grain flours. Enrichment does not replace it.

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