Vitamins and minerals - Calcium  

  • Overview

Calcium 

There is more calcium in the body than any other mineral and it has several important functions.

These include:

  • helping build strong bones and teeth
  • regulating muscle contractions, including heartbeat 
  • ensuring blood clots normally

It is thought that calcium may help lower high blood pressure and protect against colon and breast cancer, although more evidence is needed to confirm this.

A lack of calcium could lead to a condition called rickets in children or osteoporosis in later life.

Good sources of calcium

Good sources of calcium include:

  • milk, cheese and other dairy foods
  • green leafy vegetables, such as broccoli, cabbage and okra, but not spinach
  • soya beans
  • tofu
  • soya drinks with added calcium
  • nuts
  • 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 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 (over 1500mg 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, do not take too much. Taking 1,500mg or less a day is unlikely to cause any harm.

Page last reviewed: 26/11/2012

Next review due: 26/11/2014

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Comments

The 2 comments posted are personal views. Any information they give has not been checked and may not be accurate.

MissusT said on 10 March 2013

Completely agree with Yabbayabba.
We drink far more coffee, tea & fizzy soda drinks than ever & all of these impede absorption of magnesium by the body.
The NHS advisers always air on the side of caution, but any symptoms such as deep muscle pains in the thighs or larger muscles (a little like a nagging toothache in the bones & muscle) are indicative of low magnesium levels. Blood tests are often misleading as only approximately 5% of the bodies magnesium levels is stored in the blood.
Low magnesium levels can lead to unexplained pain in the muscles, which is often attributed to 'growing pains' in children & teenagers. I have always been curious as to why the excruciating growing pains I suffered as a child have returned with vengeance as I hit menopause and beyond.
Would the medical profession now describe these as 'shrinking pains' as I hit late middle age?

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Yabbayabba said on 01 January 2013

Magnesium is the master mineral not calcium as is constantly suggested by the NHS and official bodies. There is a calcium obsession at the moment and people are taking in too much calcium and too little magnesium as magnesium is lost in the cooking process as well as foods and drinks being fortified with calcium. Lack of magnesium leads to constipation and this is more serious than loose bowels caused by too much magnesium.

Calcium is found in not just dairy products and cow's milk but in nuts and green leafy veg so dairy products are not essential for a healthy diet. Neither is white bread. Both these are on the 'eatwell' plate which is a huge joke.

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