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Calcium. What is it good for? Absolutely everything.

Often we only think about calcium being important for kids and the elderly in order to build strong bones and to ward off osteoporosis. 

 

But in actual fact, calcium is vital for all stages of life and plays a much bigger role in the body than just in our bones.

 

Several studies have linked an increased intake of dairy foods with a reduced risk of type 2 diabetes.  It appears that the nutrients in dairy foods including calcium, vitamin D and whey protein may help to reduce insulin resistance.  In addition, research has shown that people who consume the recommended amount of dairy foods are more successful at losing weight, particularly in that pesky middle section. This in turn helps to reduce the risk of type 2 diabetes.  

 

How do I get enough?

 

So it appears that dairy is a bit of a wonder food with benefits beyond building strong bones.  But how much is enough?  Diabetes Queensland dietitian Michelle Tong said the body's dairy requirements vary considerably depending on your age.

 

Sounds confusing, but fortunately Michelle has summarised our daily dairy requirements in this handy table and has shared her top tips to fit more calcium into your day.

 

Serves of dairy (or alternative) foods per day:

 

19-50 years

51-70 years

70+ years

Men

2 ½

2 ½

3 ½

Women

2 ½

4

4

 

Example serving sizes:

Dairy

For more information on serve sizes click here.

 

Michelle's top tips to reach your calcium targets:

  • Breakfast is the perfect time for dairy, add milk and yogurt to your cereal or have a glass of milk with your toast.
  • Always go for reduced fat dairy options.
  • Dairy food make great snacks as they are the perfect mix of protein and carbohydrates.  Try snacking on yoghurt, cheese and crackers or even just a glass of milk.
  • When we were kids we often had a glass of milk with dinner or before bed, there is no reason that this habit shouldn't continue in adulthood.
  • If you can't have dairy foods try alternatives like calcium fortified soy products or fish with edible bones like tinned salmon or sardines.