Did you know that May is National Osteoporosis Prevention and Awareness Month? Why not start now and learn about why calcium is so important for us throughout our lives and where to find it. Calcium is the most abundant mineral in our bodies, with 99‰ stored in our bones and teeth, functioning to keep them strong. The rest is found throughout the body in blood, muscle, and the fluid between cells.
Calcium is needed for muscle contraction, blood vessel contraction and expansion, the secretion of hormones and enzymes, and sending messages through the nervous system. A constant level of calcium is maintained in body fluid and tissues for these vital body processes to function.
Bones constantly go through a process of breakdown and new formation. The balance changes as people age. Kids, have more bone formation and less breakdown and aging adults, especially postmenopausal women, experience more bone breakdown than formation, resulting in bone loss and risk for osteoporosis, a disorder characterized by porous, weak bones that break easily.
Amount of Calcium
What is the recommended daily amount of calcium?
|Age||Calcium (mg/day)||Pregnancy & Lactation|
|0 to 6 months||210||N/A|
|7 to 12 months||270||N/A|
|1 to 3 years||500||N/A|
|4 to 8 years||800||N/A|
|9 to 13 years||1300||N/A|
|14 to 18 years||1300||1300|
|19 to 50 years||1000||1000|
n the United States, milk, yogurt and cheese are the major sources of calcium. The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food Guide Pyramid recommends that people two years and older eat 2-3 servings of dairy products per day such as: 1 cup (8 fl oz) of milk, 8 oz of yogurt, 1.5 oz of natural cheese (ie Cheddar), or 2.0 oz of processed cheese (ie American).
Non-fat and reduced fat dairy products containing the same amount of calcium are available for individuals concerned about saturated fat content from regular dairy products. For individuals with lactose intolerance and those who are vegan, foods such as Chinese cabbage, kale and broccoli are alternative calcium sources. Additionally, there are many calcium-fortified food sources, including fruit juices, tofu and cereals. Certain vegetables contain substances which can reduce calcium absorption, so you may have to eat several servings of spinach to obtain the same amount of calcium in one cup of milk, which is not only calcium-rich but also contains calcium in an easily absorbable form.
Food Sources of Calcium
|Food||Calcium (mg)||‰ DV|
|Yogurt, plain, low fat, 8 oz.||415||42‰|
|Yogurt, fruit, low fat, 8 oz.||245–384||25‰-38‰|
|Sardines, canned in oil, with bones, 3 oz.||324||32‰|
|Cheddar cheese, 1 ½ oz shredded||306||31‰|
|Milk, non-fat, 8 fl oz.||302||30‰|
|Milk, reduced fat (2‰ milk fat), no solids, 8 fl oz.||297||30‰|
|Milk, whole (3.25‰ milk fat), 8 fl oz||291||29‰|
|Milk, buttermilk, 8 fl oz.||285||29‰|
|Milk, lactose reduced, 8 fl oz.||285-302||29-30‰|
|Mozzarella, part skim 1 ½ oz.||275||28‰|
|Tofu, firm, made w/calcium sulfate, ½ cup||204||20‰|
|Orange juice, calcium fortified, 6 fl oz.||200-260||20-26‰|
|Salmon, pink, canned, solids with bone, 3 oz.||181||18‰|
|Pudding, chocolate, instant, made w/ 2‰ milk, ½ cup||153||15‰|
|Cottage cheese, 1‰ milk fat, 1 cup unpacked||138||14‰|
|Tofu, soft, made w/calcium sulfate, ½ cup||138||14‰|
|Spinach, cooked, ½ cup||120||12‰|
|Instant breakfast drink, various flavors and brands, powder prepared with water, 8 fl oz.||105-250||10-25‰|
|Frozen yogurt, vanilla, soft serve, ½ cup||103||10‰|
|Ready to eat cereal, calcium fortified, 1 cup||100-1000||10‰-100‰|
|Turnip greens, boiled, ½ cup||99||10‰|
|Kale, cooked, 1 cup||94||9‰|
|Kale, raw, 1 cup||90||9‰|
|Ice cream, vanilla, ½ cup||85||8.5‰|
|Soy beverage, calcium fortified, 8 fl oz.||80-500||8-50‰|
|Almonds, 1 oz||80||8‰|
|Chinese cabbage, raw, 1 cup||74||7‰|
|Tortilla, corn, ready to bake/fry, 1 medium||42||4‰|
|Tortilla, flour, ready to bake/fry, one 6” diameter||37||4‰|
|Sour cream, reduced fat, cultured, 2 Tbsp||32||3‰|
|Bread, white, 1 oz||31||3‰|
|Broccoli, raw, ½ cup||21||2‰|
|Bread, whole wheat, 1 slice||20||2‰|
|Cheese, cream, regular, 1 Tbsp||12||1‰|
You can also visit www.CDC.gov/powerfulbones for fun bone building exercises and recipes for you and your kids.