Vitamins, minerals and supplements

Find out about calcium, including what it does, how much you need, and how to make sure you get enough.

Calcium has several important functions.

These include:

  • helping build strong bones and teeth
  • regulating muscle contractions, including 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 (19-64 years) 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 (more than 1,500mg 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, don't take too much as this could be harmful.

Taking 1,500mg or less a day is unlikely to cause any harm.

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