All About Calcium

Many people with celiac disease do not consume enough calcium, a mineral found in the body primarily in the bones and teeth. To emphasize that point, it's worth repeating some data I mentioned earlier in this chapter: in a study of the nutritional intakes of people with celiac disease in the United States, 69 percent of women and 39 percent of men did not consume recommended amounts of calcium. Regardless of whether you drink milk, there really is no reason to have low calcium intake; plenty of calcium-

fortified foods are available, as well as foods other than milk that contain calcium.

The amount of calcium you need varies by age. For men and women who are nineteen to fifty years old, the Dietary Reference Intake (DRI) for calcium is 1,000 milligrams. For men and women over fifty, the DRI for calcium is 1,200 milligrams.

Calcium is important for the formation and maintenance of bone. At any given time in our bodies, new bone is being formed, and old bone is being broken down. This process occurs throughout our life, although at different rates. Until around the age of thirty, new bone is formed at a faster rate than old bone is broken down. This is the time when we are developing our peak bone mass—as much bone as we will ever have. Then, from about age thirty to fifty, bone formation and breakdown occur at approximately the same rate. As we age (and as women reach menopause), the breakdown of bone starts to occur faster than the formation of new bone. The goal throughout our lives is to maximize bone mass and minimize bone loss. Calcium plays an important role in both of these processes.

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