U.S. Department of Health and Human Services

Get Enough Calcium

The Basics

The Basics: Overview

Your body needs calcium to build strong bones when you are young and to keep bones strong as you get older. Everyone needs calcium, but it's especially important for women and girls. Many people, including most women, don't get enough calcium.

How much calcium do I need every day? 

  • Women:
    • If you are age 19 to 50, get 1,000 mg (milligrams) of calcium every day. 
    • If you are age 51 or older, get 1,200 mg of calcium every day
  • Men: 
    • If you are ages 19 to 70, get 1,000 mg of calcium every day. 
    • If you are age 71 or older, get 1,200 mg of calcium every day. 
  • Kids ages 9 to 18 need 1,300 mg of calcium every day. 

Calcium can help prevent osteoporosis (weak bones).
Osteoporosis (“os-tee-oh-puh-ROH-sis”) is a disease that makes your bones fragile and more likely to break. Some people don’t know they have it until they break a bone.

One in 2 women and 1 in 4 men over the age of 50 will break a bone because of osteoporosis.

Calcium helps to keep your bones strong and less likely to break.

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The Basics: Foods and Vitamins

How can I get enough calcium?
There are 2 easy ways to get your calcium:

1. Eat foods with calcium every day, like:

  • Fat-free or low-fat (1%) milk, yogurt, and cheese
  • Soymilk with added calcium
  • Broccoli and dark green leafy vegetables
  • Tofu with added calcium
  • Orange juice with added calcium

2. Take a calcium pill or a multivitamin with calcium every day. Talk to your doctor before you start taking extra calcium.

Check out this list of foods that are high in calcium.

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Take Action!

Take Action: Calcium Sources

Protect your bones – get plenty of calcium every day.

nutrition label highlighting percent daily value of calciumThis label shows a food with 45% DV of calcium.

Check food labels.
Use this calcium shopping list to find foods high in calcium when you are at the grocery store.

Foods that have at least 20% DV (Daily Value) of calcium are excellent choices. Foods with at least 10% DV of calcium are good, too. 

For example:

  • A cup of fat-free milk has about 300 mg of calcium, or 30% DV.
  • Some kinds of breakfast cereal have 600 mg of calcium per serving, or 60% DV.

Learn how to check food labels for calcium information.

If you take a calcium pill, make it easy to remember. 

  • Take it at the same time every day. For example, take it when you brush your teeth before bed. 
  • Leave the pill bottle out where you will see it, like on the kitchen counter or by the bathroom sink.
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Take Action: Vitamin D

Get enough vitamin D.
Vitamin D helps your body absorb (take in) calcium. Find out how much vitamin D you need each day.

Your body makes vitamin D when you are out in the sun. You can also get vitamin D from:

  • Salmon and tuna
  • Milk with added vitamin D
  • Some breakfast cereals, yogurt, and juices with added vitamin D
  • Mushrooms
  • Vitamin D pills

Talk to your doctor before taking vitamin D pills.

Eat healthy.
Along with eating foods high in calcium or taking a calcium pill, it’s important to eat other healthy foods – like vegetables, fruits, whole grains, and foods with protein.

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