Calcium

Calcium gives your bones the strength and hardness they need to cope with your everyday activities.

Your body contains about one kilogram of calcium - 99% of this is in your bones. You should be able to get enough calcium through healthy eating alone.

Foods containing calcium

Whatever your dietary needs, there are plenty of foods you can eat to get calcium through your diet.

Foods rich in calcium include:

  • dairy products, like milk and cheese
  • green leafy vegetables
  • almonds
  • sesame seeds
  • sardines
  • dried fruit
  • pulses
  • tofu
  • fortified foods and drink, like breakfast cereal and alternative milks

Use our calcium-rich food chooser to find more foods rich in calcium.

How much calcium do you need?

Adults

Adults need 700mg of calcium a day.

If you're taking an osteoporosis medication

You may benefit from increasing your daily calcium intake to around 1,000mg.

Some osteoporosis medications are prescribed with a calcium supplement, to help you reach this target. But you may find you're getting all the calcium you need from food.

Too much calcium may increase your risk of other health problems. So if you think you're getting enough from your diet, talk to your doctor about whether you need to continue your supplement.

If you're breastfeeding

It's recommended you increase your daily calcium intake to 1,250mg.

Children and teenagers

The amount of calcium growing bones need each day varies with age and gender.

  • Up to one year: 525mg
  • One to three years: 350mg
  • Four to six years: 450mg
  • Seven to ten years: 550mg
  • Boys 11 to 18 years: 1,000mg
  • Girls 11 to 18 years: 800mg

Do you need a calcium supplement?

We recommend you always aim to get all the calcium you need as part of a healthy, balanced diet. To see whether you're getting enough calcium from what you eat and drink, you can use this online calculator, from the University of Edinburgh.

Don't worry if you don't get enough calcium everyday. As long as you generally reach the recommended amount, not getting enough on the odd day shouldn't impact your overall bone health.

If you find you continually don't get enough calcium in your diet, a calcium supplement can then be considered.

Too much calcium may increase your risk of other health problems. You can find out more about this on the calcium supplements and blood tests factsheet.