This mineral is essential for growth in children and helps to ensure efficient muscle contraction and blood clotting. It is also thought to help lower blood pressure whilst being vital for the normal growth and strengthening of our bones.
When we’re born, our bones are soft and pliable because they largely consist of cartilage.Therefore it is essential that Calcium is consumed enough each day to convert this into strong solid bone. Throughout our teenage years whilst our bones grow and strengthen we need to ensure we are consuming enough calcium to support us in later life when we suffer bone loss. In women, bone loss accelerates rapidly during menopause, increasing the risk of Osteoporosis. People suffering from Osteoporosis experience thinning and weakening of bones, making them prone to fracture.
The Government’s National Diet and Nutrition Survey has identified calcium as generally lacking in the British diet, particularly among young children and women.
Daily calcium requirements:
|0-12 months (non breast-fed infants only)||525mg|
* RNI - Reference Nutrient Intake. Taken from the Government's Committee on the Medical Aspects of Food Policy (COMA), Report 41.
An average adult should aim to take in 700mg calcium each day. Increased calcium is required for babies, children and adolescents for growth and development, while pregnant and breast-feeding mothers must also have increased intakes of calcium.
Vitamin D plays a crucial role in bone metabolism and calcium absorption. Most of our vitamin D comes from normal daily exposure to sunlight. Dietary sources include oily fish, eggs and fortified foods, such as margarine.
Sources of calcium
Milk and dairy products are major sources of calcium. Milk, cheese and yogurt are all good providers of calcium in the diet.
You can achieve your daily calcium intake by consuming three portions of milk, yogurt or cheese per day. A portion could be an average-sized glass (200ml) of semi-skimmed or skimmed milk, a small pot (150g) of low-fat yogurt and a match-box sized (30g) piece of cheese.
Source of calcium:
|Low fat yoghurt, plain||190|
|Sardines, canned in tomato sauce||430|
|Pilchards, canned in tomato sauce||250|
|Tofu, soybean curd||510|
|Curly kale, boiled||150|
|Kidney beans, canned||71|
- Add low fat yogurt to breakfast cereal or fruit.
- Add grated cheese to jacket potatoes and pasta dishes.
- Make smoothies and milk shakes at home.
- Add dried fruit and nuts to ice cream, breakfast cereals and desserts.
- Include weight-bearing exercise in your daily routine, such as walking, running, skipping, aerobics, tennis, football and dancing, which will strengthen your bones.
- Avoid smoking or excessive alcohol intake to minimise the risks from osteoporosis.
- The minerals magnesium and zinc are also important for maintaining bone health.
- Magnesium is found in fish, nuts, whole grains, seeds and pulses. Good dietary sources of zinc include meat, whole grains and beans.