In childhood, not getting enough calcium may interfere with growth. A severe deficiency may keep children from reaching their potential adult height. Even a mild deficiency over a lifetime can affect bone density and bone loss, which increases the risk for osteoporosis.
If you do not consume enough calcium, your body will draw from the storage in your bones in order to supply enough calcium for its other functions: nerve transmission, muscle contraction, heartbeat, and blood clotting.
Unless doses exceed 2,500 mg/day, adverse effects for adults are unlikely. Very large doses over a prolonged period of time may cause kidney stones and poor kidney function. Your body may not absorb other minerals, such as
, properly. These problems could occur from consuming too much through a calcium supplement, not from milk or other calcium-rich foods. The tolerable upper intake level (UL) is set at 2,500 mg daily from age one through adulthood.
Major Food Sources
Dairy foods—milk, yogurt, and some cheeses—are the best dietary sources of calcium. These foods are also rich in vitamin D, which helps the body absorb calcium.
Macaroni and cheese, homemade
1/6 frozen pizza
Frozen yogurt, soft serve
Absorption of calcium from some other dietary sources is not as great as that from dairy foods. Specifically, dark green vegetables contain oxalates, and grains contain phytates, which can bind with calcium and decrease their absorption.
Read labels on tofu and fortified products to determine specific calcium levels of these foods.
Tofu, regular, processed with calcium
Calcium-fortified soy milk
Salmon, canned with edible bones
Calcium-fortified orange juice
Pudding, from cook & serve mix
Tofu, regular (processed without calcium)
Anchovies with edible bones
Turnip greens, boiled
Milk chocolate bar
Mustard greens, boiled
Bone Health and Osteoporosis Prevention
Calcium is essential to build and maintain strong bones at all stages of life. Bone growth begins at conception, and bones grow longer and wider until well into the 20s. After this type of growth is complete, bones gain in strength and density as they continue to build up to peak bone mass by about age 35. From this point on, as a natural part of the aging process, bones slowly lose mass. Calcium is essential to slow this natural loss and stave off the onset of osteoporosis—a disease in which bones become fragile and more likely to break.
Tips for Increasing Your Calcium Intake
When making oatmeal or other hot cereal, use milk instead of water.
Add powdered milk to hot cereal, casseroles, baked goods, and other hot dishes.
Make your own salad dressing by combining low-fat plain yogurt with herbs.
Add tofu (processed with calcium) to soups and pasta sauce.
If you like fish, eat canned fish with bones on crackers or bread.
For dessert, try low-fat frozen yogurt, ice cream, or pudding.
In baked goods, replace half of the fat with plain yogurt.
If you are unable to meet your calcium needs through dietary sources, consider a calcium supplement. Some points to remember when choosing and using a calcium supplement include:
Check the label because the amount of calcium differs among products.
Avoid supplements with dolomite or bone meal; they may contain lead.
Check your vitamin D intake, too. This vitamin is essential for absorption of calcium. Milk is a great source of vitamin D, as is sunlight.
If you take both calcium and iron supplements or a multivitamin with iron, take them at different times of the day. They can impair each other's absorption
Do not take more than 500 mg of calcium at a time. Taking the calcium with food can help absorption.
Domrongkitchaiporn S, Sopassathit W, Stitchantrakul W, Prapaipanich S,
Ingsathit A, Rajatanavin R.
Schedule of taking calcium supplement and the risk of nephrolithiasis.
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Am J Obstet Gynecol.
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DynaMed's Systematic Literature Surveillance
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Arch Intern Med.
7/6/2006 DynaMed's Systematic Literature Surveillance
DynaMed's Systematic Literature Surveillance
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Am J Obstet Gynecol
7/6/2009 DynaMed's Systematic Literature Surveillance
: Kumar A, Devi SG, Batra S, Singh C, Shukla DK. Calcium supplementation for the prevention of pre-eclampsia.
Int J Gynaecol Obstet.
Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care
provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a
substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER
IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the
advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to
starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a