An Australian Health Survey on usual nutrient intakes has found that Australians are lacking sufficient calcium in their diet.1 The results showed that only one in four females and one in two males met their calcium requirements from food.
We all require a relatively high amount of calcium in comparison to many other trace minerals and each day, we lose calcium through our skin, nails, hair, sweat, urine and stool. We also cannot make calcium ourselves, so every day we must replenish our body’s supply.
Benefits of calcium
You have more calcium in your body than any other mineral, with 99% of it stored in your bones and teeth. That is why consuming enough calcium is critical for keeping your bones and teeth strong, especially as you age, with low calcium intake being linked to osteoporosis.
Calcium’s benefits also go beyond helping to maintain strong bones. Calcium is needed to regulate heart rhythms, aid in muscle function, regulate blood pressure and cholesterol levels, and is involved in numerous nerve signaling functions.
Those at risk
- Postmenopausal women – during and after menopause, women produce less estrogen, which in turn decreases calcium absorption. For this reason, the RDI for adult women over the age of 50 increases from 1000 mg/day to 1300 mg/day.
- Vegans and people who are lactose intolerant – Dairy is the top source of calcium in most diets, so if you avoid those products, you may not be getting enough.
- Certain medications can deplete calcium – such as diuretics, certain antibiotics and proton pump inhibitors (PPIs). If you are on any of these medications, you should talk to your healthcare professional about your calcium intake.
- Some health conditions – hypoparathyroidism, kidney dysfunction and women with amenorrhea (amenorrhea is a condition in which menstrual periods stop (or never start) due to low body weight, a hormonal imbalance, stress, or other causes).
Recommended Daily Intake – Calcium
The RDI based on the need to maintain a normal, functional calcium concentration.
|Boys and Girls|
|1–3 years||500 mg/day|
|4–8 years||700 mg/day|
|9-11 years||1000 mg/day|
|12 – 18 years||1300 mg/day|
|19 -70 years||1000 mg/day|
|>70 years||1300 mg/day|
|19 – 50 years||1000 mg/day|
|>51 years||1300 mg/day|
Best food sources for calcium
Calcium is found predominantly in dairy products with smaller amounts in bony fish, legumes and certain nuts, fortified soy beverages and breakfast cereals.
|Food||Quantity||Approx. calcium intake|
|Milk||200 mL||240 mg|
|Yogurt||200 mL||260 mg|
|Parmesan cheese||30 g||360 mg|
|Breakfast cereals||50 g||80 mg|
|Spinach||210 g||310 mg|
|Rye bread||1 slice||10 mg|
|Soy milk||200 mL||210 mg|
If you are not achieving the recommended dietary intake of calcium, supplements may be an option worth exploring. Floradix Calcium Magnesium with Zinc and Vitamin D contains 129 mg of calcium (from calcium lactate and calcium gluconate), per 25 mL dose. It may help you achieve your RDI when dietary intake is insufficient.
1. Australian Bureau of Statistics 2015