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