Adequate calcium intake is necessary for good health, and not just because of its importance to our bones. Calcium plays a principal role in keeping our skeletal muscles working properly as well as our vital organs. Since our bodies don’t produce calcium naturally, it is up to us to find the right calcium supplements to ensure we receive the recommended daily calcium intake.
Recommended Calcium Intake
Intake recommendations are provided in the Dietary Reference Intakes by the Food and Nutrition Board at the Institute of Medicine. These values look at age, gender, and specific situations. Recommended calcium intake is often broken down by:
Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA): Refers to the average daily calcium intake sufficient enough to meet the nutrient requirements of healthy individuals.
Adequate Intake (AI): Refers to the levels needed to ensure nutritional adequacy.
Estimated Average Requirement (EAR): Refers to the average daily intake needed to meet the requirements of 50% of healthy individuals.
Tolerable Upper Intake Level (UL): Refers to the maximum daily intake unlikely to cause any adverse health effects.
According to the FNB, these are the recommended dietary allowances (RDA) for calcium.
0-6 months: 200mg
7-12 months: 260mg
1-3 years: 700mg
4-8 years: 1,000mg
9-13 years: 1,300mg
14-18 years: 1,300mg
19-50 years: 1,000mg
51-70 years: 1,000mg for men and 1,200mg for women
71+ years: 1,200 mg
The FNB also sets the standards for tolerable upper intake (UL) levels to make sure people don’t take more calcium than they need.
0-6 months: 1,000mg
7-12 months: 1,500 mg
1-8 years: 2,500mg
9-18 years: 3,000mg
19-50 years: 2,500mg
How to Estimate Your Daily Calcium Consumption?
Even though our bodies don’t produce calcium, we often get a large part of our recommended calcium intake through our diet. Calcium-rich foods such as produce, seafood, and dairy are great sources of calcium. But, in most cases, calcium intake through our diets alone is not enough.
To determine the estimated amount of calcium you get from food on a typical day, you can use a calcium calculator. Here’s how to calculate your daily calcium intake.
Step 1: Write down the number of servings you have on a typical day for each food type.
Step 2: Multiply your number of servings per day by the number of milligrams under calcium.
Step 3: Add these totals to get the total amount of calcium intake per day.
For example, let’s say on a typical day you get one serving of milk, one serving of yogurt, and one serving of broccoli. This is what your calcium calculator would look like:
Milk (8 oz): 1 Serving per Day x 300mg of Calcium = 300
Yogurt (6 oz.): 1 Serving per Day x 300mg of Calcium = 300
Broccoli (1/2 cup): 1 Serving per Day x 20mg of Calcium = 20
Total calcium intake: 620mg per day.
If you’re between 19-50 years old, that means you have a calcium deficiency of roughly 520mg of calcium. That means you should consider increasing your calcium intake through your diet or consider a calcium supplement.
How to Increase Your Calcium Intake
The fastest way to increase your calcium intake is by including a calcium supplement into your diet that meets your daily needs. Calcium supplements are often combined with other minerals and nutrients to provide you additional health value.
Another way to increase your calcium intake is by incorporating calcium-rich food into your diet. Some foods high in calcium include collard greens, soybeans, sardines, milk, cheese, fortified foods such as almond milk or fortified juices with calcium.
Most people are shocked to find out their calcium intake is well below the average recommended amount. Consider taking a step back and looking at your calcium sources to make sure your body is receiving the minerals it needs to maintain healthy bones healthy muscles, and healthy nerve functions.