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Calcium: An Essential Nutrient For Your Bone Health


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Many Canadians of all ages do not consume enough calcium to meet their needs. Here's what you need to know.

The Importance Of Vitamins and Minerals

The quality of your diet plays a key role in maintaining and improving your health throughout your lifetime.

Vitamins and minerals are essential to the proper functioning of your body. Because most essential vitamins and minerals are not produced by the body, they must come from outside sources, such as food or supplements.

Calcium is the most abundant mineral found in the body and is obtained through diet. Dairy products are a good source of calcium. Other sources include calcium-fortified or enriched products, fish with bones, beans, nuts, seeds, vegetables and fruit.

Calcium has many important functions in our body including helping to maintain healthy bones and also contributes to muscle contraction. This is why a balanced diet that meets your calcium needs will help you stay healthy.

Your daily calcium requirements depend on your age and gender.

AgeDaily Requirement
Daily Maximum*
0-6 months old2001000
7-12 months old2601500
1-3 years old7002500
4-8 years old10002500
9-18 years old13003000
Men and women 19-50 years old10002500
Women 51-70 years old12002000
Men 51-70 years old10002000
Men and women 70 years and older12002000
Pregnant and breastfeeding women < 18 years old13003000
Pregnant and breastfeeding women 19-50 years old10002500
*This include sources of Calcium from food and supplements
Mother and daughter snack

Common Food Sources of Calcium

Vegetables and Fruit
FoodServing sizeCalcium (mg)
Collards, frozen, cooked125 mL (½ cup)189
Orange juice, fortified with calcium125 mL (½ cup)155
Spinach, frozen, cooked125 mL (½ cup)154
Turnip greens, frozen, cooked125 mL (½ cup)132
Spinach, cooked125 mL (½ cup)129
Dried figs100 mL102
Kale, frozen, cooked125 mL (½ cup)95
Bok choy, boiled125 mL (½ cup)84
Orange1 medium52
Broccoli125 mL (½ cup)33
Grain products
FoodServing sizeCalcium (mg)
This food group contains very little of this nutrient
Milk and alternatives
FoodServing sizeCalcium (mg)
Cheese (Gruyere, Swiss, goat)50 g (1.5 oz)451
Buttermilk250 mL (1 cup)370
Goat’s milk, fortified with calcium250 mL (1 cup)345
Processed cheese50 g (1.5 oz)331
Soy or rice beverage, fortified with calcium250 mL (1 cup)316
Cheese (cheddar, Edam, gouda, mozzarella)50 g (1.5 oz)309
Milk (homogenized 3.3%, 2%, 1%, skim)250 mL (1 cup)307
Yogurt, plain175 g (¾ cup)269
Dry powdered milk24 g (to make 250 mL of milk)302
Yogurt, fruit bottom175 g (¾ cup)236
Kefir175 g (¾ cup)187
Yogurt beverage175 mL (¾ cup)178
Meat and alternatives
FoodServing sizeCalcium (mg)
Sardines, canned, with bones75 g (2.5 oz)286
Salmon, canned, with bones75 g (2.5 oz)195
Mackerel, canned75 g (2.5 oz)181
Anchovies, canned75 g (2.5 oz)175
Non-Meat Sources
Tofu (prepared with calcium sulfate)150 g (¾ cup)525
Beans (white, navy), canned or cooked175 mL (¾ cup)117
Almonds, dry roasted60 mL (¼ cup)94
Baked beans, canned175 mL (¾ cup)64
Blackstrap molasses15 mL (1 Tbsp)179
Source: Canadien Nutrient File 2015
Food source calcium


Calcium and Supplements

Calcium and supplements

It is best to get as much of your calcium intake as possible through food, avoiding large doses of calcium supplements.

Supplementation is usually not considered necessary for healthy people who eat a healthy, balanced diet. If you find it difficult to meet your calcium needs from food alone, you may benefit from a supplement.

There are two main types of calcium supplements:

  1. Calcium carbonate: taken with meals because it is best absorbed with food
  2. Calcium citrate: can be taken at any time and is easier to digest than calcium carbonate


Spreading calcium supplements out over the course of the day can reduce stomach upset and helps your body absorb calcium better. Aim to take no more than 500mg to 600mg of calcium at a time to maximize your calcium absorption. Calcium supplements are available in many forms such as pills, chewable tablets and liquids.

Speak to your pharmacist before taking a supplement.

The information in this resource is for general information purposes only and is not intended to replace informed medical advice. Consume foods according to any dietary guidelines you have been provided from a health care professional. Metro Ontario Pharmacies Limited assumes no legal liability for the accuracy, completeness or usefulness of the information.

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