I am a woman and I understand that it is important that I get enough calcium in my diet. I have heard recently that calcium may also help to prevent colon cancer. Is this true and what are some good sources of calcium?

Calcium is the most abundant mineral in the body. It receives much emphasis because an intake early in life builds a healthy skeleton and minimizes bone loss later in life. Ninety nine percent of body calcium is found in bone. In addition to bone function, calcium serves as essential cofactors in many enzyme reactions such as blood coagulation. A calcium rich diet in addition to a diet moderate in protein, daily physical activity, abstinence form cigarette smoking, and moderation in alcohol use are factors that can reduce the risk of osteoporosis.

Calcium supplementation may also help prevent incidence of colon cancer. The Journal of Cancer Epidemiology Biomarkers & Prevention released data that showed an approximate 25% reduction in colon cancer in the group of women who consumed >800 mg of calcium per day. RDI for calcium = 1,000 mg for 19-50 years, and 1,200 mg for those 50 or older. Calcium is best absorbed if it comes from food. Food sources high in calcium include: milk and other dairy products, fortified orange juice, tofu, almonds, and broccoli. Calcium supplements with highest bioavailability are calcium citrate and calcium citrate maleate.

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