When to take calcium

I am 41 years of age and am always reading about women taking calcium. How do I know exactly how much to take, and at what age should I start? I’m also wondering if there are other herbs or vitamins I should be taking as I enter menopausal age.

If we’re talking about calcium carbonate – the most common and least expensive form of calcium – there are generally three ranges of dosages for women. If you’re premenopausal age – your periods are still regular and you’ve had no hot flashes or other symptoms – the recommended dosage is 1000 milligrams a day. For perimenopausal women – those who are having symptoms but are still menstruating at least occasionally – the recommended intake increases to 1200 mg. a day. For postmenopausal women – those who haven’t had a period for at least a year –  the recommended daily intake is 1500 mg. a day. Many calcium supplements also include magnesium, vitamin D and other trace minerals, which, in my opinion, is a good idea.

In preparation for menopause, I would recommend you make a point of exercising regularly and eating a low-fat diet rich in natural, unprocessed foods such as fresh veggies, fruits, whole grains and beans. It also makes sense to eat soy products whenever possible, including tofu, tempeh and soy milk. These foods are rich in compounds called isoflavones which may be helpful in preventing breast cancer and heart disease, and in easing menopausal symptoms such as hot flashes.

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