Calcium has several important functions.

These include:

  • helping build strong bones and teeth
  • regulating muscle contractions, including your 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
  • 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 aged 19 to 64 need 700mg of calcium a day.

You should be able to get all the calcium you need from your daily diet.

See the full government dietary recommendations (PDF, 148kb) for levels for children and older adults.

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 and Social Care 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.

Page last reviewed: 03/03/2017
Next review due: 03/03/2020