Find out about calcium, including what it does, how much you need, and how to make sure you get enough.
Calcium has several important functions.
- helping build strong bones and teeth
- regulating muscle contractions, including heartbeat
- making sure blood clots normally
A lack of calcium could lead to a condition called rickets in children and osteomalacia or osteoporosis in later life.
Sources of calcium
Sources of calcium include:
- milk, cheese and other dairy foods
- green leafy vegetables – such as broccoli, cabbage and okra, but not spinach
- soya beans
- soya drinks with added calcium
- bread and anything made with fortified flour
- fish where you eat the bones – such as sardines and pilchards
How much calcium do I need?
Adults (19-64 years) need 700mg of calcium a day.
You should be able to get all the calcium you need from your daily diet.
What happens if I take too much calcium?
Taking high doses of calcium (more than 1,500mg a day) could lead to stomach pain and diarrhoea.
What does the Department of Health advise?
You should be able to get all the calcium you need by eating a varied and balanced diet. If you take calcium supplements, don't take too much as this could be harmful.
Taking 1,500mg or less a day is unlikely to cause any harm.