Healthy Habits

Start a plan with your family to get enough calcium. Download the list of foods high in calcium and put it on the refrigerator. When you grab a snack, choose from the list!

Healthy Habits


Increased calcium intake between the ages of 9 and 18 is critical for this period of dramatic bone growth. Scientists have estimated that nearly 45 percent of the adult skeleton is formed during adolescence!

Healthy Habits

Limit your soda intake. Not only does it rob your body of the calcium it desperately needs for growth, soda has lots of sugar that can harm your teeth.


Calcium Good. Soda – Not So Good

How many sodas do you drink a day? One? Two? Three? More? Consider this "drink for thought" when you wonder how much calcium you should be getting during your teen years. You can get a lot of calcium in liquid form from drinking milk, not from guzzling bucket loads of soda or diet soda.


Bones grow and incorporate calcium most rapidly during your teen years, so hit the calcium often. Scientists agree that diets low in calcium during childhood and adolescence contribute when you're older to osteoporosis — a disease that makes your bones brittle.

And sodas, believe it or not, just aren't that good for you as you can see from the Health Trek experiment, "A Chicken Bone in Vinegar." This is a rather graphic illustration of the dangers of too much soda and not enough milk. The best advice is to create healthy habits: Cut down on sodas and get more calcium.


This list gives you a good idea of where you can get lots of calcium. Want the scoop on calcium content in common foods and a simple way to calculate if you’re getting enough? Download our “Are You Getting Enough Calcium?” worksheet and plug in your numbers

*All Downloads are in PDF format – Get the Acrobat Viewer Here

Foods High in Calcium – Stuff You Should Consider Eating

From the Dairy Case

Milk (non-fat, low-fat, whole)
Flavored (chocolate) milk
Parmesan cheese
Yogurt-juice drink
Cottage cheese
Ricotta cheese
Soymilk (fortified)

From the Freezer Section

Ice cream and ice milk
Frozen yogurt
Ice cream bars
Frozen pizza with real cheese
Frozen cheese enchiladas
Frozen waffles
Calcium-fortified orange juice

From the Grocery Shelf

Dry milk powder
Sardines, canned with bones
Salmon, canned with bones
Calcium-fortified cereal
Mac and cheese
Buttermilk pancake mix
Dried beans

From the Produce Department

Tofu (made with calcium)
Bok Choy
Turnip greens
Mustard greens
Collard greens

A Lack of Calcium Can Lead To...

Osteoporosis — A crippling bone disease. Bones become so brittle that they break easily.

Bone loss in the jaw — This can lead to problems chewing, tooth loss and poorly fitting dentures. Not a pretty picture, huh?

Hypertension — High blood pressure can lead to strokes and heart attacks in some people.

Related Risk Factors...
  • Age — Risk increases as you age.
  • Gender – Females are at a higher risk because they have less bone mass and because of changes involved in menopause.
  • Race — Caucasian and Asian woman are at a higher risk.
  • Body size — Small-boned and thin women are at a higher risk.
  • Low estrogen (hormone) level — Menopause, hysterectomy and excessive dieting increase risk of developing osteoporosis.
  • Diet — If you drink a lot of soft drinks that are high in phosphorous, they upset the calcium/phosphorus ratio. Replacing the milk in your diet with soft drinks can result in bone loss.
  • Healthy lifestyle — Both smoking and excessive use of alcohol inhibit your body's ability to absorb calcium.
  • Family history — Susceptibility to fracture may be hereditary.

How Much Calcium DO YOU NEED?

Based on good research, it is recommended that teens ages 9 to 18 get 1,300 milligrams of calcium daily.


A Chicken Bone in Vinegar: Your Bones and Soda

An Excursion Into What Would Happen if You Drank Soda Instead of Milk

Special Ingredients: You'll need a dry chicken or turkey bone, vinegar, a jar and a couple of days' time for this little do-it-yourself number to prove its point.

  • Put the bone in a jar of vinegar, and then set it aside where it won't be disturbed by siblings, pets, or parents for two days. This represents what would happen to your bones if you replaced milk with soda or drank three to four sodas a day, every day.
  • Remove the bone from the vinegar and feel how soft and rubbery it is. This is because the vinegar, an acid, has sucked the calcium out of the bone. Increased acid levels throughout the body and the large amounts of sugars in sodas and some juices removes nutritious minerals such as calcium from bones. Over time, the bones become weak. The result is an increase in the risk of bone fractures and osteoporosis later in life. DON'T BECOME A RUBBERY CHICKEN BONE! Get your calcium!

Get More, More Often

This information helps you see the importance of getting enough calcium, especially during your teen years, and drinking less soda. If you did the "mini-science experiment" on that rubbery chicken bone, take a look at it again, give it a couple tugs or squeezes and tell yourself: "This will not be my fate." If you didn't do the experiment, take our word for it, you don't want your bones to end up this way! The point of it all? Think before you drink. Got calcium? If not, go get it!

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