You need calcium throughout your life. Are you getting enough?

We tend to think of our bones and skeleton when we think about calcium. But this mineral is also essential to help blood vessels to contract and dilate; for our muscle function; for nerve transmission; and even hormonal secretion. Granted, less than 1% of our total body calcium is needed to support these crucial functions. The remaining 99% of the body’s calcium is indeed, stored in the bones and teeth, where it supports their structure and function.  Its most critical role is in helping to reduce our risk of osteoporosis. 

Children, teenagers and adults (up to late 20s) need good calcium intake to build strong bones, protecting them from fragile bones in later life. And adults over 30, including middle-aged and elderly need a good calcium intake to mitigate against the normal bone loss of aging.

Which foods provide calcium?

Milk, cheese and yoghurt are good sources of calcium, vitamin B12, riboflavin, vitamin A and protein.  The calcium in these foods is easily absorbed and utilised by the body.

The national recommendations are that children, adults and the elderly need approx. 3 servings each day and teenagers up to five.

A serving is 

  • 1 cup (200ml) milk
  • 1 matchbox size of cheese
  • 1 small carton of yoghurt

If you don’t eat dairy, you can get enough calcium by consistently eating a variety of other foods, including the following:

  • Fish with soft bones that you eat, such as tinned sardines and salmon.
  • Green vegetables such as spinach and kale. These provide some calcium, however some plant sources contain oxalic acid and phytic acid which interfere with absorption.
  • Calcium is added to some breakfast cereals, fruit juices, soya and rice drinks, and tofu. Look for fortified foods you will eat every day.
  • Most grains (found in breads, pastas, and unfortified cereals), while not rich in calcium, add to our calcium intake because we eat these foods frequently.

A list of food sources of Calcium to choose from.

Food/Drink Portion Size Calcium (mg)
Full fat milk 200ml 236
Low fat milk 200ml 240
Soya milk (calcium enriched) 200ml 178
Goat’s milk 200ml 200
Low fat yoghurt 125g 203
Low fat cheddar cheese 25g/1oz 210
Cottage cheese 75g/3oz 95
Baked beans 200g  106
Dried apricots 40g 37
Brazil nuts 30g 51
Salmon (tinned) 100g 93
Tofu (cooked) 100g 510

IE-CH-727(1) Date of Preparation March 2022