Calcium is the most common mineral found in the body and is essential for maintaining a healthy body. Not only is it needed to help build strong bones and teeth, but it is also vital for bodily functions like muscle contractions and blood clotting. Almost all the calcium in our bodies is stored in the bones and teeth. While bones feel rock hard, they’re actually living tissue that is constantly changing. If you don’t get enough calcium, the body will “steal” calcium that’s stored in bones and teeth to make sure it has enough to meet the body’s needs.
The recommended daily intake of calcium is 1,000 to 1,300 milligrams per day for people ages 10 and up. Children over the age of one should have 800 mg per day, while babies only require 400-600 mg.
Dairy products have a relatively high concentration of Calcium. One cup of skim milk has about 302 mg of calcium, 8 ounces of yogurt has between 250 and 400 mg, and 1.5 ounces of cheddar cheese has 306 mg. But for those who can’t, or choose not to eat dairy, there are other foods that are high in calcium such as dark green leafy vegetables (kale, spinach, collard greens, and turnips), canned fish (salmon, sardines), soy products, and almonds. You can also look for foods fortified with calcium like orange juice and cereal.
You will also need vitamin D to help absorb the calcium. Vitamin D is obtained from fluid milk, fortified soy and rice beverages, fatty fish such as salmon, and moderate exposure to the sun.
If you choose to take vitamin supplements, it is recommended that you take calcium supplements that includes Vitamin D in two doses of 500 to 650 mg, for a total of 1,000 to 1,300 mg daily. It’s difficult for the body to absorb more than that at one time.