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How Much Calcium to Take Per Day?

How much calcium should you consume daily? Many people are familiar with the standard guideline of 1,000 milligrams (mg) daily for those under 50 and 1,200 mg for those over 50, aiming to maintain bone strength. 

However, recommended calcium intakes vary internationally. For example, the World Health Organization suggests a daily intake of 500 mg, while the United Kingdom recommends 700 mg. This discrepancy raises questions about the optimal amount of calcium needed for health. 

This article will explore the role of calcium, examine varying daily requirements, and discuss potential risks associated with different intake levels. 

Table of Contents

Understanding Calcium

Calcium is a key mineral necessary for health. It helps build and maintain strong bones and teeth. Beyond that, calcium is vital for the proper functioning of your muscles, nerves, and heart. The body also needs calcium to help blood clot and to carry out various hormonal functions.

There are two main ways to get calcium: through the foods you eat or from supplements. Foods rich in calcium include dairy products like milk, cheese, yogurt, leafy green vegetables, nuts, and certain fish. For those who might not get enough from their diet, calcium supplements can help fill the gap.

However, the body’s ability to absorb and use calcium depends on several factors, including the presence of vitamin D, which is crucial because it helps the body absorb calcium more effectively. Without enough vitamin D, the body can’t utilize calcium properly, regardless of how much you take in.

How Much Calcium to Take Per Day?

how much calcium to take per day

The amount of calcium you need daily can vary based on age and gender. Here’s a breakdown of the recommended daily calcium intake for different groups:

Children and Adolescents

  • Ages 1-3: 700 milligrams (mg)
  • Ages 4-8: 1,000 mg
  • Ages 9-18: 1,300 mg


  • Ages 19-50: 1,000 mg for both men and women
  • Men ages 51-70: 1,000 mg
  • Women ages 51-70: 1,200 mg


  • Over 70 years: 1,200 mg for both men and women

Pregnant and breastfeeding women have higher needs

  • Pregnant teens: 1,300 mg
  • Pregnant women over 19: 1,000 mg
  • Breastfeeding teens: 1,300 mg
  • Breastfeeding women over 19: 1,000 mg

It’s important to adjust your calcium intake according to these guidelines to support your body’s needs at different stages of life. Regularly consuming adequate amounts of calcium helps prevent bone density loss, which can lead to conditions like osteoporosis later in life.

Factors Influencing Calcium Needs

Several factors can affect how much calcium you need. Your lifestyle choices, dietary habits, and certain health conditions can all play a role.

Lifestyle Choices

  • Regular exercise can help build stronger bones, which might influence your calcium needs.
  • Drinking alcohol excessively can interfere with how your body absorbs calcium.
  • Smoking can reduce calcium absorption, leading to weaker bones over time.

Dietary Factors

Vitamin D intake: Vitamin D is crucial because it enhances calcium absorption. If your vitamin D levels are low, you may need more calcium.

Intake of other minerals: Magnesium and phosphorus work with calcium in bone formation, so balanced levels are important for optimal calcium use.

Health Conditions

People with osteoporosis may need more calcium to help maintain bone mass.

Those with kidney disease may require different amounts of calcium as their bodies handle minerals differently.

Understanding these factors can help you adjust your calcium intake to ensure your body gets what it needs for strong bones and good health. Discussing your specific needs with a healthcare provider is also a good idea, especially if you have any health conditions or concerns.

Risks of Inadequate Calcium Intake

Not getting enough calcium can lead to several health issues, especially for your bones. Over time, if your body doesn’t receive enough calcium, it starts to use the calcium stored in your bones to keep other functions running. This can weaken your bones, making them fragile and more likely to break.

Here are some of the problems that can occur with low calcium intake:

  • Children and Adolescents: They may not reach their full potential adult height, and their bones might not develop properly.
  • Adults: They may be at an increased risk of developing osteoporosis, a condition in which bones become brittle and can fracture easily.
  • Seniors: They are at a higher risk of fractures, especially hip fractures, which can have serious consequences in older adults.

Signs of calcium deficiency can include muscle spasms, numbness or tingling in the fingers, and abnormal heart rhythms. However, these symptoms can be subtle and not always directly linked to calcium levels without medical tests.

Ensuring you get enough calcium through diet or supplements is crucial to preventing these health issues. Regular check-ups and bone density tests can also help monitor bone health, especially if you are at risk for osteoporosis.

Risks of Excessive Calcium Intake

Taking in too much calcium can also pose health risks. When your body has more calcium than it needs, it can lead to conditions that affect your kidneys and heart.

Here are some potential risks associated with excessive calcium intake:

  • Too much calcium can lead to the formation of kidney stones, particularly if your intake of water is low. Kidney stones are hard deposits made of minerals and salts that form inside your kidneys and can be quite painful.
  • Hypercalcemia occurs when too much calcium is in the blood. Symptoms can include nausea, vomiting, and confusion, and in severe cases, it can be life-threatening.
  • Heart Problems: Excessive calcium, especially from supplements, has been linked to an increased risk of heart disease. Too much calcium can harden the arteries, which can lead to heart attacks.

Balancing calcium intake and ensuring it is not excessively high is important. If you use calcium supplements, you should talk with a healthcare provider about the right dose for you. They can help you understand how much calcium you need based on your diet and overall health.

How to Achieve Optimal Calcium Intake

To ensure you get the right amount of calcium each day, it’s important to focus on your diet and lifestyle. Here are some tips to help you maintain an optimal calcium intake:

Incorporate Calcium-Rich Foods

Include a variety of calcium-rich foods in your diet, such as dairy products (milk, cheese, yogurt), leafy green vegetables (broccoli, kale), and calcium-fortified foods (orange juice, cereals). If you eat fish, canned salmon and sardines with bones are also good sources.

Consider Supplements if Necessary

If you find it difficult to get enough calcium from your diet alone, consider using supplements. It’s best to consult with a healthcare provider to choose the right type and amount of supplement.

Balance Calcium with Other Nutrients

Ensure you get enough vitamin D, which helps your body absorb calcium more effectively. Magnesium and phosphorus are also important for bone health, so include foods like nuts, seeds, and whole grains in your diet.

Monitor Your Intake

Keep track of how much calcium you consume daily from foods and supplements. This will help you avoid getting too little or too much.

Following these steps can help you achieve and maintain the right balance of calcium for your body’s needs, supporting your overall health and well-being.

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Frequently Asked Questions

How much calcium supplement is safe to take daily?

The safe amount of calcium from supplements varies depending on age, gender, and dietary intake. Generally, adults should not exceed 500 to 600 mg of supplemental calcium per day, as excessive intake can lead to health issues such as kidney stones and heart problems. It’s best to consult a healthcare provider to determine the appropriate supplement dosage for your needs.

Is 500mg of calcium a day enough?

For some individuals, particularly in countries outside the United States where lower daily intakes are common, 500 mg of calcium may be sufficient, especially if dietary sources are balanced and vitamin D levels are adequate. However, typical recommendations for adults in the U.S. are higher. It’s important to assess your dietary intake and lifestyle factors and consult a healthcare provider to see if 500 mg meets your needs.

How can I get 1000 mg of calcium per day?

To reach 1000 mg of calcium per day, include a combination of calcium-rich foods in your diet. For example:

  • A cup of milk (300 mg)
  • A slice of cheddar cheese (200 mg)
  • A cup of plain yogurt (450 mg)

Half a cup of cooked spinach (120 mg)

  • These foods add up to around 1070 mg of calcium, which can help you meet your daily requirements.

What is the best calcium to take?

The best calcium form can depend on individual health needs and digestion variances. Calcium citrate is absorbed well on an empty stomach and is a good choice for those with digestive or absorption issues. Calcium carbonate is less expensive but should be taken with food for better absorption. Discussing with a healthcare provider can help you choose the form that’s best suited for your body and lifestyle.

About Thomas Arkenis

Avatar photoThomas is a natural health enthusiast and our resident journalist. He's an avid contributor to various traditional medicine conferences and forums, Thomas stays on top of the latest industry trends to bring you the latest product and ingredient innovations.

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