width=215When I was a kid, I never developed a taste for milk. Well, no, that's not strictly true - I loved CHOCOLATE milk. I never had it, so, consequently, I didn't drink milk. I heard all of the horror stories that were linked to non consumption of milk - the broken bones, the osteoporosis later in life - but I chose to ignore all of them. I mean, really, who wants to think about the things that might happen fifty years in the future?

Me. Now. I'm thinking about it now.

The most abundant mineral in the body, calcium is indeed a multi-functional miracle. Used for muscle contraction as well as to support bones and teeth, calcium is stored in the bones and teeth and said storage fluctuates during a person's life. The bones absorb calcium for growth in the younger years, and that absorption decreases as you age, almost reversing in the later years. A lack of the optimal amounts of calcium in youth can lead to bone loss that increases the risk of osteoporosis and bone deformities such as the well known Dowagers hump. Falls and bone breaks are very common in older people, due to a combination of loss of balance and poor bone density.

I started taking a calcium supplement the day that I witnessed an elderly woman fall and experience a compound wrist fracture. That was a crystal clear indicator to me that I needed more calcium in my diet, and if I wasn't going to drink milk, I was going to have to supplement it in other ways.

Milk and other dairy products are the most obvious and the richest sources of calcium, but not the only ones. Broccoli, kale and Chinese cabbage are relatively high in calcium, and now many foods are calcium fortified. Take advantage of orange juice, cereals, breads and even bottled water that are all calcium fortified.

One other benefit that I've noticed since I began to supplement with a calcium/magnesium supplement is an almost complete disappearance of the dreaded leg cramps that I have experienced at night.

The RDA for a woman aged 19-50 years is 1,000 mgs a day. A cup of skim milk has 30% of your daily allowance, and a cup of yogurt an astounding 40%. A bowl of cereal for breakfast - drink the milk! - and a yogurt in the afternoon and you are 75% of the way to your goal.