This is adapted from the book, Eat Smart, Play Hard, by RW USA Nutrition Editor Liz Applegate.
Calcium always has been and always will be the mineral for bone health. And bone health is not just a womans issue. Sure, osteoporosis is a bigger concern for women, but both male and female bones lose calcium as they age.
As a fitness enthusiast, you should be especially concerned about your bones. Any weight-bearing, repetitive exercise can strengthen your bones, but an overuse injury such as a shinsplint can turn into a stress fracture, especially if youre not eating enough calcium.
Besides protecting your bones, calcium also regulates blood pressure, prevents colon cancer, and may even aid weight loss, so get plenty of calcium. Make dairy products such as low-fat milk, yogurt, cheese, and cottage cheese a part of your daily menu. Even if you have a lactose intolerance, you may be able to consume 8 ounces or more of milk or yogurt a day without symptoms if you spread out your intake. You can use lactose-free milk or Lactaid-type products. Also look for calcium-fortified soy milk and orange juice, plus tofu, canned salmon, broccoli, and tortillas made with lime.
My recommendation: Aim for 1,000 to 1,500 milligrams a day. That amounts to three to five glasses of milk a day. If you dont think youre getting that much from food, consider a 500-milligram supplement. Taking the supplement with dinner will ensure the best absorption because for most people, dinner is the meal with the lowest calcium content.