Calcium is the most abundant mineral in your body. The primary role of calcium is to give structure and strength to the bones and teeth.
It is important for:
- Bone health
- Nerve function
- Blood clotting
If you do not get enough calcium in your diet, you may be at risk for losing calcium in your bones, making them thinner and weaker. This condition is called osteoporosis. There are no symptoms of osteoporosis in the beginning, so it is often called the silent disease. Once the bones have weakened, signs may appear that include:
- Back pain
- Loss of height
- Stooped posture
- Broken bones that occur easily
How much calcium do you need?
How much calcium you need depends on your age and whether you are male or female.
The recommendations are:
|Life Stage||Recommended Amount|
|Birth to 6 months||200 mg|
|Infants 7–12 months||260 mg|
|Children 1–3 years||700 mg|
|Children 4–8 years||1,000 mg|
|Children 9–13 years||1,300 mg|
|Teens 14–18 years||1,300 mg|
|Adults 19–50 years||1,000 mg|
|Adult men 51–70 years||1,000 mg|
|Adult women 51–70 years||1,200 mg|
|Adults 71 years and older||1,200 mg|
Milk, yogurt, and cheese are all good sources of calcium, but dairy isn’t the only way you can fill up on this nutrient. Leafy greens such as broccoli and kale, seafood (i.e. sardines and salmon), legumes, almonds, and fruits also contain calcium and many foods and drinks are fortified with the mineral. It’s best to get calcium through foods, but if your diet is inadequate, calcium supplements are the next best option. If you take a calcium supplement, be sure to space them throughout the day because the body can only absorb up to 500 mg at one time.
The following can make it harder for your body to absorb calcium:
- Too much fiber
- Excess protein
- Phosphates (in soft drinks)
- Some medicines, such as tetracycline (an antibiotic) and antacids that contain aluminum
- Excessive alcohol consumption
- Smoking, stress and lack of exercise
To stay healthy, eat more calcium-rich foods and get plenty of exercise. Your body needs exercise to help it use the calcium in your diet to strengthen your bones.
The information provided is for general interest only and should not be misconstrued as a diagnosis, prognosis or treatment recommendation. This information does not in any way constitute the practice of medicine, or any other health care profession. Readers are directed to consult their health care provider regarding their specific health situation. Marque Medical is not liable for any action taken by a reader based upon this information.