Nutrition Facts: Calcium

Printable fact sheet (PDF 183KB/2 pages)

Facts:
  • Calcium is a mineral that is needed by the body for strong bones, normal pulse rate, blood clotting, and the transmission of nerve impulses.
  • Calcium is important for health but milk is not the only good or best source. In addition to dairy, other sources of calcium are green leafy vegetables, tofu, dried beans, salmon, and sardines.
  • Calcium constantly moves in and out of the bones in a process called remodeling until about the age of 30. After that the body losses the ability to “bank” calcium and any bone loss becomes permanent. It is important for children and young adults to consume adequate amounts of calcium while they are still able to build bone density.
  • When there isn’t enough calcium circulating in the blood due to a poor diet, the body will leech it from the bones and teeth where 99% of calcium is stored. Over time, this calcium withdrawal can result in bones that are porous and weak.
  • Osteoporosis means spongy bones.
  • According to the National Osteoporosis Foundation, an estimated 10 million Americans have osteoporosis, 2 million men and 8 million women. Another 34 million Americans have low bone mass and are at risk of osteoporosis.
  • There is mounting evidence that the recommendations for optimal calcium intake may not be correct and it stems from something called the Calcium Paradox. The Calcium Paradox notes that the rate of hip fractures is highest in countries where calcium intake is relatively high and lowest in countries where calcium intake is low.

Strategies that can minimize bone loss during adulthood and old age include:

  • Exercise regularly. Weight bearing activities such as walking, dancing, and lifting weights can help retain bone density. Water sports are not considered good weight bearing exercises.
  • Get adequate amounts of vitamin D. Vitamin D is no less important in maintaining bone health than calcium.
  • Get adequate amounts of vitamin K. Studies have linked consuming 110 micrograms of vitamin K a day with a 30% drop in hip fractures.

Requirements across the Lifecycle:

Life-stage Group Recommended Dietary Allowance
  • Adequate Intakes (AIs)
  • Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA)
  • Tolerable Upper Intake (UL)

RDAs and AIs may both be used as goals for individual intake.

Infants

0-6 months

210 mg/d

7-12 months

270 mg/d

Children

1-3 years

500 mg/d

4-8 years

800 mg/d

Good Food Sources:

Males

  • Milk

9-13 years

1,300 mg/d

  • Yogurt

14-18 years

1,300 mg/d

  • Kale

19-30 years

1,000 mg/d

  • Spinach

31-50 years

1,000 mg/d

  • Broccoli

51-70 years

1,200 mg/d

  • Cheese

> 70 years

1,200 mg/d

  • Salmon

Females

  • Sardines

9-13 years

1,300 mg/d

  • Fortified juices

14-18 years

1,300 mg/d

  • Ice cream

19-30 years

1,000 mg/d

  • Turnip greens

31-50 years

1,000 mg/d

  • Fortified cereals

51-70 years

1,200 mg/d

> 70 years

1,200 mg/d

Pregnancy

</= 18 years

1,300 mg/d

19-30 years

1,000 mg/d

31-50 years

1,000 mg/d

Lactation

</= 18 years

1,300 mg/d

19-30 years

1,000 mg/d

31-50 years

1,000 mg/d


Research Findings on Calcium 
There is evidence that consuming too much caffeine and colas can increase your risk of osteoporosis:
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov
/pubmed/17023723?dopt=Citation

Updated Wednesday, April 10, 2013 at 11:19AM