No bones about it

Most calcium ads are targeted at women over the age of 40. That’s why it’s a surprise to most people that peak bone mass is actually reached between the ages of 25 and 30. It means our university years are crucial for bone development, says Peer Health Outreach co-ordinator Beth Doxsee.

“You can do a lot now to help yourself later in life,” Doxsee said, adding that a decline in bone mass usually starts after the age of 50.

Calcium isn’t only necessary for the bone health, but for proper muscle function, nerve conduction, enzyme activity and the formation of cell membrane.

However, a high-calcium diet isn’t always conducive with student living.

“With students, dairy products can get warm and spoil more easily,” Doxsee said.

High-calcium foods you wouldn’t expect:

• Almonds and almond products

• Fortified soy milk and soy products

• Kale (as well as other dark greens) • Broccoli

• Sardines

Many products also have calcium rich options, such as Asana yogurt or Tropicana orange juice with calcium. Fortified soy products and cereals are also available.

“People often associate calcium products with higher fat content, yet it doesn’t have to be the case. Some of these foods are great examples,” Doxsee said.

Increasing calcium intake can help prevent osteoporosis and breaking bones.

“Weight-bearing exercises also help build up bone density and strength,” said Kathryn Humphries, health promotion co-ordinator at Queen’s Health, Counselling and Disability Services. Factors such as family history and gender also play a role in the loss of bone density. Women lose bone mass at a greater rate than men, thus should pay particular attention to calcium consumption. One should get about 2-3 servings of calcium throughout the day, totalling about 1,000 mg of calcium.

For example, one glass of milk contains 300 mg and one cup of almonds contains 250mg.

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