Your body requires calcium to build strong bones when you are young and to maintain bone strength as you age. Calcium is essential for everyone, but it is especially important for women and girls. Many people, including the majority of women, do not consume enough calcium.
How Much Do You Need?
- Get 1,000 mg (milligrams) of calcium every day if you’re between the ages of 19 and 50.
- Get 1,200 mg of calcium every day if you are 51 or older.
- If you are pregnant or lactating, you should consume 1,300 mg of calcium per day.
- Get 1,000 mg of calcium every day if you’re between the ages of 19 and 70.
- Get 1,200 mg of calcium every day if you’re 71 or older.
- Every day, children aged one to three require 700 mg of calcium.
- Children aged 4 to 8 require 1,000 mg of calcium per day.
- Every day, children aged 9 to 18 require 1,300 mg of calcium.
Osteoporosis is a disease that causes your bones to become weak and brittle. Some people are unaware of their condition until they break a bone. In the United States, one in every four women and one in every twenty men over the age of 65 have osteoporosis. Calcium helps to keep your bones strong and less prone to fractures.
Getting Enough Calcium
The best way to get enough calcium is to eat calcium-rich foods every day. Calcium can be found in foods such as:
- Low-fat or fat-free (1 percent ) cheese, yogurt, and milk
- Soymilk fortified with calcium, vitamin A, and vitamin D
- Soybeans, collard greens, and turnip greens are examples of vegetables
- Tofu with added calcium
- Orange juice with added calcium
- Breakfast cereal with added calcium
The best way to get calcium is through food. If you don’t get enough calcium from your diet, you can take a calcium supplement (pill) every day. You can take a multivitamin with calcium or a calcium-only pill. Before you begin taking extra calcium, consult with your doctor.
The Daily Value (DV) on a food label indicates the amount of a nutrient (such as calcium) in one serving of the food. Foods containing at least 20% of the daily value of calcium are excellent choices. Calcium-rich foods with at least 10% DV are also beneficial. As an example:
- A cup of fat-free milk contains about 300 mg of calcium, or 30% of the daily value.
- A cup of orange juice with added calcium contains approximately 350 mg of calcium, or 35% of the DV.
Make it easy to remember if you take a calcium supplement.
- Every day, take it at the same time. Take it, for example, when you brush your teeth before going to bed.
- Place the pill bottle somewhere you’ll see it, such as on the kitchen counter or near the bathroom sink.
GET ENOUGH VITAMIN D
Calcium absorption is aided by vitamin D. When you are exposed to sunlight, your body produces vitamin D. Vitamin D can also be obtained from:
- Salmon and tuna
- Milk with added vitamin D
- Some breakfast cereals, yogurt, and juices with added vitamin D
- Vitamin D pills. *Talk to your doctor before taking vitamin D pills.
Along with eating calcium-rich foods, it is critical to maintain a healthy eating pattern. This includes eating a variety of vegetables, fruits, whole grains, and protein-rich foods.