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Get Enough Calcium

strawberry milk smoothie

Content last updated on:
February 21, 2014

The Basics

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.

  • Girls ages 9 to 18 need 1,300 mg (milligrams) of calcium every day.
  • Women ages 19 to 50 need 1,000 mg of calcium every day.
  • Women over age 50 need 1,200 mg of calcium every day.

Calcium can help prevent osteoporosis (weak bones).
One in 2 women and 1 in 4 men over the age of 50 will break a bone because of osteoporosis (“os-tee-oh-puh-ROH-sis”). Some people don’t know they have osteoporosis until they break a bone.

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

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

  1. Eat foods with calcium every day, such as:
    • Fat-free or low-fat (1%) milk, yogurt, and cheese
    • Broccoli, spinach, and other green leafy vegetables
    • Tofu with added calcium
    • Soy-based drinks (soymilk) with added calcium
    • Orange juice with added calcium
  2. Take a calcium pill every day. You can choose a pill that has only calcium or a multivitamin with calcium. Let your doctor know you are taking extra calcium.

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

Take Action!

Take Action!

Most women don’t get enough calcium. Protect your bones – get plenty of calcium every day.

Know how much calcium you need.

  • Women ages 19 to 50 need 1,000 mg of calcium daily.
  • Girls need even more calcium – and so do women over age 50.

Find out how much calcium you need each day.

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

  • Take it at the same time every day. For example, try taking it when you eat breakfast.
  • Leave the pill bottle out where you will see it, like on the kitchen or by the bathroom sink.
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. 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.

Get enough vitamin D.
Vitamin D helps your body absorb (take in) calcium. Check this chart to see 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
  • 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, eat plenty of fresh vegetables, fruits, and other healthy foods.

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