New Recommendations Address Evolving Calcium Needs
The Institute of Medicine panel increased calcium recommendations from 500 mg per day to 700 mg per day for children one to three years old
A 14-member expert committee convened by the Institute of Medicine of the National Academies issued recommendations for dietary intake of vitamin D and calcium in 2010. While vitamin D got most of the press, it's important to note the changes in calcium recommendations, too. You may be surprised to learn that recommended calcium intake actually decreased for one group of people.
Growing bones need calcium
The Institute of Medicine (IOM) panel increased calcium recommendations from 500 mg per day to 700 mg per day for children one to three years old. This may not seem like much, but it represents a 40% increase in the recommended intake for this age group. For children four to eight years old, the calcium recommendation was raised from 800 mg per day to 1,000 mg per day, which is a 20% increase.
One of the most important changes to the calcium recommendations came for men over 50. In this case, the IOM opted to lower recommended intakes from 1,200 mg per day to 1,000 mg per day. Why would older men need less calcium?
For men, the difference between enough and too much calcium is less than previously thought. Some studies suggest excessive calcium may increase prostate cancer risk, and others point to increased risk of calcium deposits in soft tissues, such as the blood vessels and kidneys, and more heart disease with higher calcium intakes.
The safe upper limits for calcium range from 1,000 mg per day for young infants, to 2,000 mg per day for men and women over age 50, and up to 3,000 mg per day for children age 9 to 18 years and for pregnant and breastfeeding women. Though these are big numbers, between dairy products and fortified foods and beverages it's easy to exceed them if you're not careful. The following tips will guide you toward getting enough calcium for good health, without overdoing it.
(The Institute of Medicine of the National Academies. "Dietary Reference Intakes for Calcium and Vitamin D." Available at: www.iom.edu/Reports/2010/Dietary-Reference-Intakes-for-Calcium-and-Vitamin-D.aspx. Accessed December 6, 2010.)
Suzanne Dixon, MPH, MS, RD, an author, speaker, and internationally recognized expert in chronic disease prevention, epidemiology, and nutrition, has taught medical, nursing, public health, and alternative medicine coursework. She has delivered over 150 invited lectures to health professionals and consumers and is the creator of a nutrition website acclaimed by the New York Times and Time magazine. Suzanne received her training in epidemiology and nutrition at the University of Michigan, School of Public Health at Ann Arbor.