Why do I need calcium?
Calcium is one of the building blocks of strong bones and teeth. Getting enough calcium early in life helps build strong bones. Getting enough calcium later in life helps keep bones strong and slows bone loss. It also helps muscles, nerves and hormones work properly.
How much calcium do I need each day?
Recommended amounts of calcium include the total intake from food and any supplements.
|0-6 months||200 mg|
|6-12 months||260 mg|
|1 to 3 years||700 mg|
|4 to 8 years||1000 mg|
|9 to 18 years*||1300 mg|
|19 to 50 years*||1000 mg|
|51 to 70 years||Male:
|Over 70 years||1200 mg|
mg = milligram
*Including those who are pregnant or breastfeeding
Which foods contain calcium?
Foods that are high in calcium include:
- Milk and dairy products such as yogurt and cheese
- Fortified plant-based beverages such as fortified soy beverage
- Tofu made with calcium sulfate
- Canned fish with bones such as salmon and sardines
Other sources of calcium include:
- Nuts and seeds such as almonds and sesame seeds
- Beans such as white beans and navy beans
- Dark green leafy vegetables such as kale and Chinese cabbage
Aim to include several of these foods each day to meet your calcium needs. If you don't eat foods high in calcium daily, it may be hard to meet your needs.
What affects how much calcium is absorbed?
Many factors affect how much calcium is absorbed from the foods you eat. Your body naturally absorbs more calcium during times of bone growth, such as during childhood and pregnancy. Having enough vitamin D helps your body better absorb calcium from foods.
Should I take a supplement?
Use the food sources table below to find out how much calcium you are getting from food. For foods that have a label, check the nutrition facts table to see how much calcium the food contains. You can also use the calcium calculator on the Osteoporosis Canada website (see For More Information). If you are not getting enough calcium, try eating more foods that contain it. If you find it hard to get enough calcium from food, you can take a supplement to help meet your needs.
Many multivitamins contain both calcium and vitamin D. If you take a multivitamin, check the label to see if it has calcium. Do not take more than the recommended amount of calcium from food and supplements.
Talk to a dietitian, pharmacist, or your health care provider if you have questions about the right amount and type of supplement that is best for you.
For More Information
- HealthLink BC File 68n Vitamin D and Your Health
- Osteoporosis Canada Calcium Calculator
- Calcium content of specific foods: Canadian Nutrient File
- Infant and toddler feeding guidelines:
For more nutrition information, call 8-1-1 to speak with a registered dietitian.
Food Sources of Calcium
|Food||Serving size||Amount of calcium (mg)|
|Excellent source of calcium (250 mg or more)*|
|Dried fish, smelt||35 g (1 oz)||560|
|Cheese, semi-hard such as cheddar and mozzarella||50 g (1 ½ oz)||365|
|Milk||250 mL (1 cup)||310|
|Fortified plant-based beverage such as soy, almond or oat**||250 mL (1 cup)||310|
|Fortified orange juice||250 mL (1 cup)||310|
|Buttermilk||250 mL (1 cup)||300|
|Sardines, Atlantic, canned with bones||75 g (2 ½ oz)||286|
|Yogurt||175 g (3/4 cup)||272|
|Kefir||250 mL (1 cup)||267|
|Tofu, made with calcium sulphate||150 g (5 oz)||256|
|Good source of calcium (150 to 249 mg)*|
|Salmon, pink, canned with bones||75 g (2 ½ oz)||212|
|Edamame, cooked||175 mL (3/4 cup)||207|
|Mackerel, canned||75 g (2 ½ oz)||181|
|Blackstrap molasses||15 mL (1 tbsp)||179|
|Source of calcium (50 to 149 mg)*|
|Tempeh, cooked||150 g (5 oz)||144|
|Chia seeds||30 mL (2 tbsp)||136|
|Tahini (sesame seed butter)||30 mL (2 tbsp)||130|
|White beans, cooked||175 mL (3/4 cup)||119|
|Almond butter||30 mL (2 tbsp)||113|
|Turnip greens, cooked||125 mL (1/2 cup)||104|
|Almonds, dry roasted||60 mL (1/4 cup)||94|
|Navy beans, cooked||175 mL (3/4 cup)||93|
|Mustard greens, cooked||125 mL (1/2 cup)||87|
|Chinese cabbage/bok choy, cooked||125 mL (1/2 cup)||84|
|Octopus||75 g (2 ½ oz)||80|
|Cottage cheese, 1%||125 mL (1/2 cup)||73|
|Mollusks, clam||75 g (2 ½ oz)||69|
|Naan||1 small (100g)||69|
|Okra, cooked||125 mL (1/2 cup)||65|
|Seaweed, wakame, raw||125 mL (1/2 cup)||63|
|Bread||2 slices (70g)||60|
|Chickpeas, cooked or canned||175 mL (3/4 cup)||59|
|Kale, raw||125 mL (1/2 cup)||53|
|Seaweed, agar, dry||125 mL (1/2 cup)||50|
mL = milliliter, g = gram, tbsp = tablespoon, mg = milligram
Source: Canadian Nutrient File 2015
*Categories are based on Canada’s food labelling regulations for nutrient claims
**Fortified plant-based beverages are not recommended for children under 2 years of age