How Much Calcium do We Need?

Calcium is essential to the body to maintain the skeletal system, allow the muscles to contract, the nerves to convey messages and the blood to properly clot, prevent disease and keep the heart beating regularly. Many people do not get enough calcium in their diet. Understanding just how much calcium you need can help you to make the right decisions about how to change your diet so this isn’t a problem.

How Much Calcium do We Need?

Age

Recommended Daily Intake

1-3 years

700mg

4-8 years

1000mg

9-18 years

1300mg

Women under 51

1000mg

Women 51-70

1200mg

Men and women 71 and older

1200mg

Notes

  1. It is essential for children to get adequate amounts of calcium because the teeth and bones are developing at this age. Their bodies will naturally be craving calcium at these ages.
  2. Those taking daily calcium supplements make sure that the supplements you are using also include magnesium, ideally at a 2:1 ratio. So, for every 1000mg of calcium you should make sure you are taking in at least 500mg of magnesium. The body uses magnesium to transport calcium to the cells so most supplements have taken this issue into account.
  3. You cannot overdose on calcium, but some health problems can be caused by ingesting too much calcium. If you overuse calcium it can build up in the bloodstream and cause kidney stones when it is filtered out of the body via the kidneys. It is generally considered that it is safe to take in up to 2500mg of calcium daily, but you do not need to take nearly this much to get the benefits of this mineral.

Calcium Deficiency

Symptoms of Calcium Deficiency

It is essential for you to get plenty of calcium each day, but recent studies suggest that as much as 50 percent of people in the United States are calcium deficient. Warning signs that you might not be getting enough calcium include hypertension, aching joints, eczema, an increased risk of fractures, brittle nails, heart palpitations, insomnia, numbness in the arms and legs or muscle cramps.

Risk Groups

It is possible for any age group to have a calcium deficiency, but some groups are at a higher risk than others. These include those that are lactose intolerant, vegans, smokers, teens and young adults as well as women, particularly those that are post-menopausal.

Good Sources of Calcium

The percent daily value for calcium is 1000mg. Some foods are listed below noting the amount of calcium they contain for their serving size.

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Food Sources

Serving

Calcium

Shredded cheddar cheese

1.5 ounces

306mg

Calcium enriched orange juice

8 ounces

200-260mg

Salmon with bones

3 ounces

181mg

Firm tofu

½ cup

138mg

Cooked spinach

½ cup

120mg

Fortified oatmeal

One packet

100mg

Skim milk

One cup

305mg

Non-fat yogurt

8 ounces

452mg

Fresh spinach

½ cup

146mg

 

Tips and Cautions on Calcium Intake

  1. You should also work to increase your daily intake of vitamin D by drinking fortified milk, getting more exposure to the sun or taking supplements. Vitamin D helps the body to absorb calcium so it will enter the bloodstream and bones.
  2. Read the instructions and know how to properly take your supplements. For example, supplements that contain calcium and vitamin D should be taken before bed instead of with food so they will absorb properly
  3. Reduce your intake of alcohol, caffeine and sodium. Over-consuming these products can lead to the decreased absorption of calcium and it will be excreted through your kidneys instead.

The following video offers more details about foods that are high in calcium:

 
 
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