RDA varies with age. Over-50s should have from 800 to 1300 mg.
Calcium is the most abundant mineral in the body. Most of it (99%) is in the bones and teeth; the rest is in the blood and tissues.
The average diet has only 800 mg of calcium a day and recommendations are for 1200 mg or more, so, taking more calcium is a good idea.
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It is involved in blood clotting, heart function, muscle contraction, nerve impulse transmission and the hormone system.
Where do you get calcium?
Most dietary calcium comes from dairy products and foods such as pulses, soya, dried fruits, oranges, herbs, nuts, grains, eggs, fish and green leafy vegetables. Mineral water may contain calcium, depending on its source.
Changing your diet to include more calcium-rich foods is the best way to improve the calcium level.
Discover the best foods for healthy bones
Too much calcium
Too much calcium can be a problem if you are prone to kidney stones and is associated with upsetting the balance of other essential minerals like iron and zinc.
Too little calcium
Lack of calcium is associated with colon cancer, high blood pressure, pre-menstrual syndrome, poor dental health and osteoporosis.
Low calcium levels can be due to eating too much processed food, sugar, coffee, salt, fat and fizzy drinks, alcohol excess, smoking, poor nutrition, lack of exercise and some drugs such as those used for asthma and arthritis.
Calcium supplements should have vitamin D in them so as to help absorption of the calcium. Multi-minerals contain some calcium and specialised products used for prevention and treatment of osteoporosis have lots of calcium.
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