Adequate calcium intake is integral to bone health as well as for optimal athletic performance. This study was conducted to investigate: (a) food sources of calcium in a sample of collegiate athletes, (b) gender and/or ethnic differences in food sources of calcium, and (c) whether athletes that derive less of their calcium intake from dairy sources increase their calcium intake from supplements or other food sources. Participants were African-American and Euro-American NCAA Division 1-A athletes. Eighty-five men and 59 women participated. Calcium intake for the previous 7-day period was assessed with a brief calcium screen.
Men consumed significantly more calcium than women (1,354 vs. 898 mg/day), with female cross-country runners exhibiting the lowest average intake (605 mg/day). Both men and women obtained the majority of their calcium from dairy products and mixed dishes, while men consumed significantly more calcium-fortified foods. Several gender and ethnic interactions for calcium intake from food groups were found. Mean total dairy calcium intake was found to vary according to total calcium intake in men, and supplemental calcium was not used to augment low dairy intakes of calcium in any group.
While African-Americans and Euro-Americans athletes were consuming similar levels of calcium, the female athletes in the sample did not get adequate amounts.