Information about Calcium

How much calcium do you need?

It can be difficult to find accurate information about calcium and supplements containing calcium. But, most dietary information about calcium indicates that the amount of calcium you need each day from ALL sources — normal diet, calcium fortified foods and calcium supplements — depends mostly on your age and sex:



Recommended Daily
Calcium Intake


Age and/or Condition

Men Women


25 - 50 years old

1,000 mg 1,000 mg


pregnant or nursing


1,200 -1,500 mg


post menopausal:




on estrogen replacement therapy

1,000 mg

NOT on estrogen replacement therapy

1,500 mg


51 - 64 years old

1,000 mg see above


65 or older

1,500 mg 1,500 mg

Information Source: "Optimal Calcium Intake,"
National Institutes of Health, 1994


The latest information about calcium shows that it helps heart, muscles and nerves function properly. Calcium helps blood to clot. And, calcium helps build and maintain healthy bones. If our diets don't include enough calcium, our body takes the calcium it needs from our bones. Certain medications also deplete calcium from our bones. (For more calcium information from the National Institutes of Health, click on information about calcium.)

However, survey information shows the average American consumes only 500 to 700 mg of calcium per day. This amount of calcium is too low and can lead to osteoporosis. (For your information, 50% of women over 50 will have a osteoporosis-related bone fracture. But, calcium related osteoporosis isn't only a women's disease; 20% of men also have it.)

Experts recommend that we fill our calcium needs through the foods we eat. Here are the approximate amounts of calcium in some foods before they've been fortified.

Approximate Amounts of Calcium



Amount Mg of



1 cup (8 ounces)

290 - 300



1 cup (8 ounces)

390 - 490


Cheese, American

1 ounce



Cheese, American

1 slice (19 grams)



Cheese, Cheddar

1 ounce



Cheese, Parmesan

2 tablespoons



Cheese, Swiss

1 ounce



Cottage Cheese

1 cup (8 ounces)



Tofu (firm)

1 cup (8 ounces)




1 cup (8 ounces)



Walleye Pike Fillet (baked)

7 ounces



Salmon (canned with bones)

3 ounces



Cheese Pizza (Pizza Hut)

1 slice



Almonds (whole dried)

1 ounce



Broccoli (cooked)

1 cup (8 ounces)



Navy Beans (cooked)

1 cup (8 ounces)



After you figure out how much you get every day — on average — subtract that from the amount that you should be getting, based on your age and sex (see the first table above). That will tell you how much more you should add to your diet. For example:


Woman, age 70

1,500 mg

- from food

- 900 mg

Recommended supplement

600 mg


For more info, click on Information about taking calcium supplements.