Got Enough Calcium? How to Keep Your Body Strong and Healthy

How much calcium do you consume? While many of us get enough for good health, some people, including boys age 9 through 13; girls 9 through 18; women over 50; and men over 70 are more likely to fall short of the recommended daily intake, or RDI, for this mineral.

Here’s what you should know about calcium, and how to get more in your diet:

Beyond bone-building

While calcium is linked with bone health, it has other important functions, says Bethany Thayer, RDN, director of the Center for Health Promotion and Disease Prevention at Henry Ford Health System in Detroit. “Calcium also supports the structure and hardness of teeth, helps your muscles contract and is used for carrying messages through your nervous system,” says Thayer.

The amount of calcium you need depends on your age and gender:

Age Recommended Daily Intake
Newborns 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 9-18 years 1,300 mg
Adults 19-50 (and adult men 51-71) 1,000 mg
Adult men 51-70 years 1,200 mg
Adult women 51-70 years and adults 71+ years 1,200 mg
Pregnant and breastfeeding teens 1,300 mg
Pregnant and breast feeding adults

1,000 mg

0891 Pro Tip DesignGet more calcium in your diet

Getting more calcium into your diet isn’t difficult when you do the following:

  • Boost your intake of dairy. Dairy foods, like milk, yogurt and cheese, are the go-tos for calcium. If you’re watching your saturated fat intake, look for lower-fat or no-fat versions. Our overnight oats recipe has both Greek yogurt and milk.

     

  • Eat more greens. Some vegetables, including turnip greens, kale, broccoli and mustard greens are good sources of calcium. Try our Roasted Broccoli, Radicchio and Chickpeas sheet-pan meal

     

  • Sip (or savor) some soy. Soy-containing foods including tofu, tempeh and soy milk are often fortified with calcium. If you’ve never tried tofu, our Asian-inspired noodle bowl might win you over. 

     

  • Opt for fish. Fish with edible bones (like canned sardines and salmon) are also good calcium sources.

     

  • Look for fortified foods. Many foods, including cereals, juices and drinks are fortified with calcium. Check the labels to see what they contain.

While you can take calcium supplements, it’s preferable to get most of your calcium from foods, says Thayer. “It’s always best to get your nutrients from foods because of all the other nutrients that come with it,” she says. Those other nutrients can also help with absorption.

Finally, getting enough calcium will help keep your bones strong throughout your life. “Your bones are in a constant state of change, because they’re living tissues,” explains Thayer. “Calcium is regularly deposited and withdrawn, which is why you need to consume it on a regular basis.” 

Categories: Get Healthy

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