Womens health : menstrual


Although intake of calcium cannot make up for a lack of oestrogen caused by menstrual irregularities, it can be optimised at any time before, during or after the onset of menstrual irregularities.

Dietary calcium
A potential factor contributing to osteopenia (a lack of calcium in the diet) can be eliminated with dietary calcium and prevent a woman suffering a painful stress fracture when she is older.

Having said this, taking more calcium than the body needs will not produce further effects on bone mass, as it is a threshold nutrient. Ensuring an adequate intake of calcium can reduce the rate of bone loss, but not prevent it.

Any old iron
Like calcium, iron intake could also be suboptimal when intake of energy is low, or with vegetarianism or some fad diets. High intakes of protein, salt, phosphorous and caffeine can encourage calcium loss, and should be kept to reasonable levels.

Dairy products and calcium
In the typical western diet, over half of the calcium intake is provided by dairy products, with low-fat products giving the highest potential for combining various nutritional goals. Myths that should be dispelled forever include those claiming dairy foods have too much fat and cholesterol, are too high in calories and cause mucus in the mouth.

However, ample amounts of calcium can be obtained by vegans or woman with lactose intolerance or a milk allergy from other foods.

Calcium in other foods

  • Soya products (especially calcium-fortified varieties)
  • fish (including bones, which are an excellent source)
  • Some green leafy vegetables
  • Some nuts, such as almonds

It could be beneficial for women to take calcium supplements, typically about 500mg, taken just before sleep to increase absorption. Taking too much can lead to constipation and reduced iron absorption, though.

Alun Williams

Courtesy of Peak Performance

Additional information
Are you at risk from osteoporosis?
Osteoporosis and exercise
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