Dr. Heaney shares how much calcium a woman should have per day to protect her bones.
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Well, there are two answers to that question. One, calcium alone is not enough and that’s very important to understand that. You need an adequate hormonal balance, you need adequate exercise and you need adequate nutrition. Those are the three legs of the stool of bone health and I used to ask audiences, “Now which one of those legs would you rather do without?” Well, you’re not going to be very successful sitting on that stool with only one or two legs. You really need all three if you’re going to have stability. Now within nutrition, then even there calcium alone is not enough. You need to have an adequate protein intake. Bone is made up, not only of calcium, but it’s made up of protein. You can take all the mineral out of bone and it still looks like a bone. It’s the kind of thing you might give your dog to chew, basically, because it’s still tough and rubbery. It’s got all the structure of bone. It just doesn’t have the mineral in it. But you can’t make good bones if you don’t have an adequate protein intake. You need vitamin D, you need potassium, you need a whole host of other things that are found in foods and so the answer is, “How much calcium do you need?” Well you need about 1200 to 1500 milligrams of calcium per day as a part of a good diet and that means an adequate protein intake, and adequate vitamin D status, an adequate potassium and magnesium and so forth.