Protect Your Bones

Protect Your Bones - Get Enough Calcium!

Calcium is an important mineral that the body needs to build strong bones when you are young, and to keep bones strong as you get older. Calcium also controls nerve impulses, muscle contraction, and blood clotting.  Everyone needs calcium, but it's especially important for women and girls. Adequate calcium intake is important to prevent osteoporosis.  Osteoporosis is a condition in which the bones become fragile and can break easily. Many people, including most women, don't get enough calcium.   

The recommended dietary allowance for calcium intake varies by age and gender. The guidelines were developed by the Food and Nutrition Board at the Institute of Medicine of the National Academies.  They are as follows:

  • Women:
    • If you are age 19 to 50, get 1,000 mg (milligrams) of calcium every day. 
    • If you are age 51 or older, get 1,200 mg of calcium every day.
  • Men: 
  • If you are ages 19 to 70, get 1,000 mg of calcium every day. 
  • If you are age 71 or older, get 1,200 mg of calcium every day. 
  • Children ages 9 to 18 need 1,300 mg of calcium every day.

Calcium can be found naturally in foods or added to foods.  It can also be taken as a dietary supplement and is present in some medicines, such as antacids. To ensure you get enough calcium try to find foods with Nutrition Facts indicating the product is at least 20% DV (Daily Value) of calcium.  But don’t forget those foods with less than 20% DV can help you meet your daily goal as well.  Also, remember that Vitamin D helps your body absorb calcium, so it is important as well.  The following list can help guide you in selecting calcium rich foods when shopping.

Dairy Products:  Fat-free or low-fat (1%) milk, yogurt, cheese, cottage cheese, or soymilk with added calcium.

Vegetables: Broccoli, Kale, Turnip greens, Chinese cabbage, collard greens

Foods with Added Calcium: Breakfast cereal, tofu and 100% orange juice with added calcium

Foods with Vitamin D: milk, breakfast, and juice (Check the Nutrition Facts label) salmon, tuna