Most adults should consume about 1,000 mg of calcium per day. Adolescents require 1,300 mg, and postmenopausal women need 1,200 mg.
Unfortunately, up to 70% of us miss these dietary marks, which translates to greater risks for weak bones and osteoporosis, as well as dental problems. Calcium deficiency can also lead to nervous-system irritability and muscle spasms.
Experts agree that breakfast provides one of the best opportunities to add calcium to your diet, but many people skip this meal altogether in their haste to get to work or school.
“Adults who eat breakfast regularly tend to eat fewer calories, less saturated fat and cholesterol, and have better overall nutrition status than breakfast skippers,” says Andrea Garen, a registered dietitian with the Dairy Council of California. “Try to choose foods from at least two or more food groups. Protein-rich foods like milk and yogurt take longer to digest and will provide sustained energy to keep you feeling full and energized until lunchtime.”
Garen offers the following healthful and convenient breakfast ideas:
- Cereal, low-fat milk, and fruit or glass of 100% fruit juice
- English muffin with a melted cheese slice and 100% fruit juice
- Yogurt with homemade granola and berries
- Hardboiled egg and whole-grain toast with a glass of milk
If you’re a vegan, or if you're lactose-intolerant, many other foods can help you meet your calcium quota: blackstrap molasses, sweet potato, beet greens, tomato puree, collard greens, kale, broccoli, soy milk, calcium-enriched tofu, almond milk, cod, prune juice, stewed prunes, lentils, kidney beans and split peas.