Young girls who obtain extra calcium from food sources tend to gain more bone mass than those who get it from tablet supplements. However, children who already receive adequate amounts of calcium in their diets do not benefit from extra calcium in any form.

Some 60 percent of adult bone mass accumulatesduring puberty; understanding how to maximize bone growth during this period may help prevent later osteoporosis.

Tablets Versus Cheese

A two-year study followed almost 200 girls, ages 10 to 12, with calcium intake below recommended levels. They randomly assigned the children to receive either calcium tablets, calcium tablets fortified with vitamin D, low-fat cheese, or placebo tablets.

More Benefit From Cheese, but No Benefit Pasta Certain Point

The cheese group showed more beneficial effects than any of the other groups. However, there was no additional benefit to any group once a certain level of dietary calcium intake was exceeded.

The authors of the study concluded that, while calcium from natural sources is best, it is wise to avoid unnecessary calcium supplementation of any kind in normally growing children.

Journal of Clinical Nutrition November 2005; 82(5): 1115-1126Yahoo News November 22, 2005

Dr. Mercola's Comment:This new study demonstrates just how important getting the right amount of calcium -- and where you get it -- can be.

Although the low-fat cheese group enjoyed more health benefits than those taking supplements, these results are a mixed blessing, because processed dairy foods are some of the worst things you can eat.

There are, however, better natural sources for calcium:

1) Finding an authentic raw milk source. This is probably the best choice. Admittedly a bit difficult to locate but well worth the effort.

Pasteurized dairy and non-fermented soy products are both exceedingly poor choices for calcium sources. If your body can tolerate it, I believe raw milk is the single best source of calcium you can get, and an outstanding source of a variety of additional nutrients. Of course, human breast milk would be best, but cow, sheep or goat milk will also work well.

If you want to start drinking raw milk, I recommend finding an authentic raw-milk source, where the cows are pasture-fed, in your area. This will help ensure you are getting a clean source of milk, with the highest nutrient levels it can have.

If you are unable to find a local dairy farmer in your area who sells raw milk, I encourage you to visit the Real Milk site to locate a source close to you.

2) Getting a healthy amount of sunshine, your best source for vitamin D, every day. Calcium and vitamin D work hand in hand for your health, which is why vitamin D was included in some of the calcium tablets used in the study. However, oral vitamin D is far inferior to your body producing it after being exposed to sufficient sunshine. At this time of year the best source of vitamin D for most people reading this is a high-quality cod liver oil.

3) Increasing your intake of vegetables, ideally through juicing. Vegetable juice is also rich in vitamin K, which serves as the biological glue that plugs calcium into your bone matrix.

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