Tag Archives: National Institutes of Health

You Can Get Active

In addition to National Mediterranean Diet month, May is also National Physical Fitness and Sports Month. Surely you’ve heard the obesity statistics, but just to refresh your memory, in the past 30 years childhood obesity has doubled among 2-5 year olds and tripled among 6-11 year olds. Not only are children not eating healthfully, they are also not living an active lifestyle.

To help out on the activity front, the National Institutes of Health (NIH) has implemented a science-based national education program called We Can! (Ways to Enhance Children’s Activity and Nutrition). The program helps children ages 8-13 stay at a healthy weight and they offer materials to help caregivers and families encourage children to become more active.

we can program nih

Although the end of May is almost here, it’s not too late to celebrate physical activity. Here are some tips to get your family moving:

  • Take a family walk after dinner.
  • Have a dance party with your kids.
  • Park farther away from the entrance of  a store.
  • Take the stairs instead of the escalator  and race your kids to the top!
  • Acknowledge family efforts with non-food related activities like a day at the zoo or park.

Check out the We Can! website for many more tips!

What does your family do to stay physically active?

Disclaimer: I was not paid to promote the We Can! program or the NIH. All opinions are my own. 

Photo Credit: National Heart Lung and Blood Institute

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Calcium, It Does a Body Good

A couple of weeks ago I told you about vitamin D and the role it plays in calcium absorption. Even though calcium can’t do its job in the body without vitamin D, it’s still important that you get adequate amounts of calcium in your diet every day. Here’s a brief rundown on why you need calcium, how much you need, and where to get it.

Calcium Functions in the Body to:

  • Support the structure of bones and teeth
  • Contract muscles
  • Expand and contract blood vessels
  • Secrete hormones and enzymes
  • Transmit impulses throughout the nervous system
  • Clot blood

Calcium Needs By Age:

  • Birth to 6 months: 210 mg
  • 7 to 12 months: 270 mg
  • 1 to 3 years: 500 mg
  • 4 to 8 years: 800 mg
  • 9 to 18 years: 1300 mg
  • 19 to 50 years: 1000 mg
  • 50+ years: 1200 mg

Calcium needs for men and women are the same. Surprised? Bone loss happens to men too!

Calcium Rich Foods:

Dairy products are the best sources of calcium, but there are many non-dairy foods that are high in calcium too. Here are some foods to look for:

  • 1 cup of nonfat or lowfat plain yogurt = 400-450 mg
  • 1/2 cup part-skim ricotta cheese =337 mg
  • 3 ounces of canned sardines with bones = 324 mg
  • 1 cup of nonfat milk or soymilk = 300 mg
  • 1 ounce of cheese = 150-250 mg (amount depends on type of cheese; read nutrition facts)
  • 1/2 cup of tofu = 250 mg
  • 3 ounces of canned salmon with bones =180 mg
  • 1/2 cup cooked kale = 90 mg
  • 3 dried figs = 60 mg
  • 1/2 cup cooked broccoli = 47 mg

For more food sources of calcium check out the National Institutes of Health calcium source list.

What’s your favorite source of calcium?