You have more calcium in your body than any other mineral. Calcium has many important jobs. The body stores more than 99% of its calcium in the bones and teeth to help make and keep them strong. The rest is throughout the body in blood, muscle and the fluid between cells. Your body needs calcium to help muscles and blood vessels contract and expand, to secrete hormones and enzymes and to send messages through the nervous system.
It is important to get plenty of calcium in the foods you eat. Foods rich in calcium include:
- Dairy products such as milk, cheese, and yogurt
- Leafy, green vegetables
- Fish with soft bones that you eat, such as canned sardines and salmon
- Calcium-enriched foods such as breakfast cereals, fruit juices, soy and rice drinks, and tofu. Check the product labels.
The exact amount of calcium you need depends on your age and other factors. Growing children and teenagers need more calcium than young adults. Older women need plenty of calcium to prevent osteoporosis. People who do not eat enough high-calcium foods should take a calcium supplement.
NIH: National Institutes of Health Office of Dietary Supplements
- Calcium and Calcium Supplements: Achieving the Right Balance (Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research) Also in Spanish
- Calcium and Vitamin D: Important at Every Age (National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases) Also in Spanish
- Calcium Supplements: A Risk Factor for Heart Attack? (Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research) Also in Spanish
- Hypercalcemia (Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research)
- Idiopathic infantile hypercalcemia: MedlinePlus Genetics (National Library of Medicine)
Health Check Tools
- Calcium Calculator (International Osteoporosis Foundation)