NUTRITION: Health authorites enjoin Filipinos to have adequate calcium intake

The 7th National Nutrition Survey which was undertaken to assess the current food consumption situation and energy and nutrient intake of Filipino households, showed 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).

This means that calcium is the least-consumed nutrient in the Filipino diet.

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.

On the other hand, pregnant women had the highest mean one-day calcium consumption among population groups.

However, 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.But milk intake, as an excellent source of dietary calcium, was shown to be poor except in infants.

Health authorities said 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.

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.#