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You are here : 3-RX.com > Medical Encyclopedia > Diet and Nutrition > Calcium and Adolescents
      Category : Health Centers > Food, Nutrition, and Metabolism

Calcium and Adolescents

Overview & Description | Functions and Sources

Calcium is a mineral. It plays a crucial role in building healthy teeth and bones. Unfortunately, most adolescents do not eat enough high-calcium foods. That puts them at risk of developing osteoporosis when they get older.


Here are some ways that teens can increase their calcium intake:

  • Eat or drink 3 to 4 servings of low-fat dairy foods, such as low-fat milk, yogurt, or cheese, each day.
  • Eat at least one non-dairy source of calcium, such as green leafy vegetables or dry beans and peas, each day.
  • Drink fewer soft drinks and substitute calcium-fortified juices or soymilk for some of the servings.
  • Try substituting hard cheese and yogurt for some of the milk if they are lactose intolerant. These foods may be better tolerated. Lactose-free and low-lactose milks are also available. There is also medicine that can ease symptoms. Many teens with lactose intolerance can drink small amounts of milk with a meal without a problem.
  • Add some calcium-fortified foods to the diet. Choose healthy foods, such as 100% fruit juices or whole grain cereals.
  • Watch the amount of salt consumed in snack foods, convenience foods, and fast foods, as it raises the amount of calcium lost in the urine. One study of teenage girls reported that for every 1000 mg of salt consumed, an extra 26 mg of calcium was removed from the body with urine.
  • Spend time outdoors. Sunlight provides the body with vitamin D, which helps to maintain proper blood levels of calcium.
  • Add nonfat dry milk powder to milk, cream soups, hot cereal, or other milk-containing products to increase calcium content.
  • A person who cannot or will not consume enough calcium from food should take a calcium supplement. For best absorption, no more than 500 mg should be taken at one time. As other nutrients affect calcium absorption, it may be wise to take a multivitamin and mineral supplement as well.


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    Calcium and Adolescents: Functions and Sources

    Author: Kelly Streit, MS, RD, LD
    Reviewer: Kathleen A. MacNaughton, RN, BSN
    Date Reviewed: 10/11/02

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