NUTRITION: Calcium is the least consumed micronutrient in the Filipino diet

According to the 7th National Nutrition Survey (NNS), calcium is the least consumed nutrient in the Filipino diet and that the mean one-day per capita calcium intake is at 42.3% of the Recommended Energy and Nutrient Intakes (RENI) developed by the Food and Nutrition Research Institute, Department of Science and Technology (FNRI-DOST).

There was a drop in the proportion of households meeting the RENI for calcium from 16.0% in 2003 to 11.5% in 2008.

The survey further showed that six to twelve year-old children had the lowest consumption of calcium according to population groups, with 0.26 grams per day.

Pregnant women had the highest mean one-day calcium consumption among population groups.

In general, the estimated average recommendation for calcium was not met and registered very low proportions across population groups at around 9.8%.

Dried dilis, canned fish, and sardines, snails and mollusks are shown to be the primary source of calcium in the Filipino diet, followed by rice and cereals, green vegetables and legumes, seeds and nuts. Milk and milk products such as yogurt and cheddar cheese on the other hand, have the highest absorbable calcium.

Milk intake, as an excellent source of dietary calcium, was also shown to be poor except in infants.

Calcium intake can be increased through increased consumption of fish and milk in the diet, as well as promoting cheaper sources of calcium. Calcium-fortified fruit juices and drinks are also good sources of calcium particularly for people with lactose intolerance.

Health authorities strongly encourage the promotion of adequate calcium intake throughout the lifespan to meet the recommended intakes especially in infants after six months.

They enjoin the Filipino families to take part in improving the calcium intake, particularly during the growing years of their children to avoid calcium deficiency-related diseases such as osteoporosis. (Tawid News Team)