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Are you getting enough calcium?

You may be avoiding dairy products because of lactose intolerance. Or you might have other reasons. But dairy products are a major source of calcium, vitamin D and other nutrients that are important for your body. If you're avoiding dairy products, you need to take special care to make sure you're getting enough of these nutrients.

Our heart, muscles and nerves need calcium to work properly. Our bones need it to grow and stay strong. The body also needs vitamin D to absorb calcium. Nutrition surveys have shown that most people in the U.S. aren't getting the calcium they need. If you're avoiding milk and dairy products, you may be missing out on important sources of calcium and vitamin D.

If you/ve been avoiding dairy foods, try the following strategies:

* Try low-fat or fat-free milk in servings of 1 cup or less.

* Have milk with other food, such as breakfast cereal.

* Try other dairy products, such as low-fat or fat-free cheeses or yogurt.

* Choose lactose-free milk and milk products.

* Choose other calcium-fortified foods such as orange juice, soy or rice beverages. Some non-dairy foods, such as spinach and broccoli, have calcium, too.

* Use over-the-counter pills or drops that contain lactase which can eliminate symptoms.

* Talk to your doctor about nutritional supplements.

(Taken from New in Health)

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