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Higher calcium intake may cut risk of colorectal cancer

milkglassthmbnailA recent study conducted by the National Institutes of Health found that older adults who get higher levels of calcium through food or supplements have a lower risk of colorectal cancer.  WebMD Health News reports that participants in the study who indicated that they had a calcium rich diet showed a decreased risk for all cancers of the digestive system, but particularly colorectal cancer.  The study also showed differences between men and women.  According to the report, “women who got the most calcium from food and supplements had a lower risk of all cancer and a 23% lower risk of cancers of the digestive system than those who got the least.”  Men also showed a decreased risk according to the study, but the reduced risk was slightly less significant.  WebMDreported on the study which was conducted by NIH in partnership the the AARP and published in the February 2009 Archives of Internal Medicine.

“Women who got the most calcium from food and supplements had a lower risk of all cancer and a 23% lower risk of cancers of the digestive system than those who got the least.”

The recommended daily allowance of calcium increases for adults as they age.  The National Institutes of Health Office of Dietary Supplements recommends 1200 mg/day for adults over the age of 51 and 1000 mg/day for those between 19 and 50 years of age.  While  supplements have become increasingly popular, “most Americans should consider their intake of calcium from all foods including fortified ones before adding supplements to their diet to help avoid the risk of reaching levels at or near the tolerable upper limit for calcium (2500 mg)”, according to the agency.

Calcium rich foods can be found in almost any aisle of the grocery store.  If dairy products rich in calcium are not your favorite foods, consider adding green leafy vegetables to your diet.  One cup of cooked spinach provides 300 mg of calcium, the same amount provided by an 8 oz glass of skim milk.  Ready-to-eat cereals are another great source.  Fortified cereals can provide anywhere from 236 to 1043 milligrams of calcium.  A more complete list of calcium rich foods, along with tips for improving the body’s ability to absorb this important nutrient can be found on the Dietary Supplement Fact Sheet provided by the National Institutes of Health.