Information about Calcium

How much calcium do you need?

It can be difficult to find accurate information about calcium and supplements containing calcium. But, most dietary information about calcium indicates that the amount of calcium you need each day from ALL sources — normal diet, calcium fortified foods and calcium supplements — depends mostly on your age and sex:

  

  

Recommended Daily
Calcium Intake

  

Age and/or Condition

Men Women
           

  

25 - 50 years old

1,000 mg 1,000 mg
           

  

pregnant or nursing

  

1,200 -1,500 mg
           

  

post menopausal:

  

  

  

on estrogen replacement therapy

1,000 mg

NOT on estrogen replacement therapy

1,500 mg
            

  

51 - 64 years old

1,000 mg see above
            

  

65 or older

1,500 mg 1,500 mg

Information Source: "Optimal Calcium Intake,"
National Institutes of Health, 1994

  

The latest information about calcium shows that it helps heart, muscles and nerves function properly. Calcium helps blood to clot. And, calcium helps build and maintain healthy bones. If our diets don't include enough calcium, our body takes the calcium it needs from our bones. Certain medications also deplete calcium from our bones. (For more calcium information from the National Institutes of Health, click on information about calcium.)

However, survey information shows the average American consumes only 500 to 700 mg of calcium per day. This amount of calcium is too low and can lead to osteoporosis. (For your information, 50% of women over 50 will have a osteoporosis-related bone fracture. But, calcium related osteoporosis isn't only a women's disease; 20% of men also have it.)

Experts recommend that we fill our calcium needs through the foods we eat. Here are the approximate amounts of calcium in some foods before they've been fortified.

Approximate Amounts of Calcium

  

Food

Amount Mg of
Calcium

  

Milk

1 cup (8 ounces)

290 - 300

  

Yogurt

1 cup (8 ounces)

390 - 490

  

Cheese, American

1 ounce

150

  

Cheese, American

1 slice (19 grams)

100

  

Cheese, Cheddar

1 ounce

200

  

Cheese, Parmesan

2 tablespoons

175

  

Cheese, Swiss

1 ounce

270

  

Cottage Cheese

1 cup (8 ounces)

155

  

Tofu (firm)

1 cup (8 ounces)

515

  

Shrimp

1 cup (8 ounces)

145

  

Walleye Pike Fillet (baked)

7 ounces

300

  

Salmon (canned with bones)

3 ounces

180

  

Cheese Pizza (Pizza Hut)

1 slice

300

  

Almonds (whole dried)

1 ounce

75

  

Broccoli (cooked)

1 cup (8 ounces)

95

  

Navy Beans (cooked)

1 cup (8 ounces)

130

  

After you figure out how much you get every day — on average — subtract that from the amount that you should be getting, based on your age and sex (see the first table above). That will tell you how much more you should add to your diet. For example:

  

Woman, age 70

1,500 mg

- from food

- 900 mg

Recommended supplement

600 mg

  

For more info, click on Information about taking calcium supplements.