We all need enough calcium to build and maintain healthy bones, teeth, muscles and nerves. As we age we need to make sure our calcium intake is even higher to avoid muscle weakness, back pain, brittle bones, fractures and osteoporosis. If our body needs more calcium than our diet supplies, it withdraws it from the bones.
The recommended daily intake (RDI) of calcium is 1,000 mg per day for most adults, though women over 50, men over 70 and children should get 1,300 mg per day.
Vitamin D is essential for the absorption of calcium. Most people will get enough from exposure to sunlight and it is also found in full-fat dairy products and fortified foods.
Some foods can prevent the absorption of calcium, such as oxalic acid containing foods like spinach, rhubarb and chocolate as well as excessive intake of coffee, tea, salt, brown rice and wheat bran.
The main foods rich in calcium are dairy products like milk, cheese and yogurt. If you are a vegetarian or vegan there are many non-dairy sources which are also high in calcium.
Top calcium sources are:
Dairy food has high levels of calcium. However, keep in mind that it also has high levels of saturated fats and studies have linked dairy food with increased risk of heart disease, stroke and diabetes.
Please note that the calcium amount given is approximate. It depends on the brand, on the way it was produced and on the country.