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How much calcium do I need every day?

Benjamin T. Cohen, MD
Cardiology (Cardiovascular Disease)
The amount of calcium for heart health is the same as you need for your overall health. In this video, Ben Cohen, MD, a cardiologist at West Hills Hospital, discusses how much calcium you need, and how to best get it.
Government guidelines suggest 1,000-1,200 milligrams (mg) of calcium per day is adequate, but RealAge recommends a bit more: 1,000-1,500 mg per day from food and calcium supplements—but not all at once. Your body can absorb only 500-600 mg at a time, so divide it into two or three doses over the course of a day.
Adults, age 19 to 50 years old need 1,000 milligrams of calcium daily. Women older than 50 and men aged 70 and beyond, should increase their daily intake to 1,200 milligrams.

Milk, yogurt, and cheese are the major sources of calcium in the American diet. Each serving from the dairy group will provide approximately 300 milligrams of calcium. (Choose only nonfat and low-fat milk and yogurt and reduced-fat or skim milk cheeses to reduce the amount of saturated fat in these foods.) Although three servings of dairy foods will just about meet many adults’ daily needs, Americans consume only about 11⁄2 servings of dairy daily, on average.

Broccoli, kale, canned salmon with bones (the calcium is in the bones), and tofu that is processed with calcium can also add calcium to the diet. Calcium-fortified foods, such as juices and cereals, are also excellent sources. Spinach, rhubarb, and okra also contain calcium, but these foods are also high in calcium-binding oxalates, so less than 10 percent of the mineral is absorbed in the body.
David Slovik, MD
Endocrinology Diabetes & Metabolism
The amount of calcium you need varies by age. The list below shows recommended intakes from the Institute of Medicine.
  • 1-3 years: 700 mg/day
  • 4-8 years: 1,000 mg/day
  • 9-18 years: 1,300 mg/day
  • 19-50 years: 1,000 mg/day
  • 51-70, women: 1,200 mg/day
  • 51-70, men: 1,000 mg/day
  • 71 years or older: 1,200 mg/day
  • Pregnant or lactating, 14-18 years: 1,300 mg/day
  • Pregnant or lactating, 19-50 years: 1,000 mg/day
Because excessive amounts of calcium can cause problems, it's wise to keep your intake below 2,500 mg a day (the tolerable upper limit set by the Institute of Medicine).
Dr. Mehmet Oz, MD
Cardiology (Cardiovascular Disease)
Multivitamins are supposed to protect you -- but if you take the wrong kind, they can actually cause harm. Too much calcium in your multivitamin can keep you from absorbing other vitamins. In this video, Dr. Oz explains how much calcium should be in your multivitamin, and what do to make sure you're getting enough of the bone-building mineral.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.