By: Shani Goldner M.S. R.D. C.D.N. C.F.I.
Did you know that a leading cause of death in the elderly is osteoporosis? Osteoporosis affects over 25 million Americans. You will not find this listed on a death certificate, but this is indeed a high cause of mortality. When people age, they lose some muscle mass, and their bones lose density. All cells in the body periodically shed and rebuild. Bone cells are not different. However, as we age and our bone cells shed, we put back less calcium in our bones than we lost.
If you start with very thick bones, you won’t feel this loss that much. If you do not have a large savings of bone due to a lack of calcium in your diet, you will become more prone as you age to breaking or fracturing your bones if you fall. Your bones will be more fragile due to their low bone density.
Since your body cannot make calcium it is important that you get enough calcium from your diet. Consuming enough calcium is especially important during childhood and adolescence. Ninety percent of adult bone mass is formed during that period. Later on, regardless of your calcium consumption and exercise intensity, you will not put on much bone mass. You will be maintaining your current level of bone mass, and preventing a deficit.
The key to remember is to eat low-fat foods that are rich in calcium. Dairy is not the only good source of calcium. Vegetables such as broccoli, kale, and spinach, are good sources too. Almonds and sardines are other good choices. Calcium-fortified soy and calcium-fortified juices are some more great ways to help you meet your calcium needs. When choosing dairy, go for the low-fat version. The saturated fat in whole milk, yogurt, and cheese, is one of the body’s best sources for producing artery-clogging cholesterol. So try having two low-fat dairy sources, and one vegetable source of calcium each day. Good sources include: milk (1 cup=215 mg), high calcium milk (500 mg/cup), yogurt, buttermilk, cheese (1.5 oz=305 mg), cottage cheese, nonfat milk powder, sardines (3 oz.=325 mg), almonds (2 Tbs=80 mg). The stock from cooked bones also releases calcium into the soup.
Try this tasty dish that provides you with a great source of calcium, beta-carotene, and dietary fiber!
Vegetable Quesadillas 
Each quesadilla provides 210 calories, 4 grams of fat, 14 mg cholesterol, 130 mg sodium, 3g fiber, 310 mg calcium, 6 mg beta-carotene, and 75 mg of vitamin C.
Shani Goldner is a Registered Dietitian and a CDN with a Master’s of Science. She runs a private nutrition practice where she counsels children, adolescents and adults in weight loss, diabetes, hypertension, cardiovascular health and cancer related nutrition. She has a practice in Long Island and Brooklyn. She can be reached at (516) 596-7934 or at (718) 854-5784. She is an Oxford provider. Phone consults are available. For more information please visit www.mynydiet.com