How much calcium do I need? What are good food sources of calcium?

Most men should aim for 1000-1200 mg daily, young women for 1000-1300 mg daily, and postmenopausal women for 1200-1500 mg of calcium daily. Calcium deficiency is most common among children, teenagers, women, individuals with insufficient production of stomach acid (a common cause of indigestion and nutrient malabsorption), individuals taking medications that affect calcium absorption, and individuals with a low intake of vitamin D or who receive little sunlight.

Check the adequacy of your calcium consumption with our Food Advisor. For more detailed information on this important major mineral, read our comprehensive discussion of Calcium.

We should all eat calcium-rich foods daily, but be particularly attentive if you have any of the following: sedentary lifestyle, problems with bone formation (such as osteoporosis), Premenstrual Syndrome (PMS), intestinal malabsorption, eating disorders, or frequent muscle cramps or discomfort.

Men with prostate concerns should avoid excessive intake of calcium (particularly from dairy products) which has been linked to a higher incidence of prostate disease.

Excellent or very good food sources of calcium include dark green leafy vegetables, tofu curded with calcium, nuts, seeds, molasses, and dairy products. Keep in mind that while dairy foods are a well-known food source of calcium, many individuals are sensitive to or are unable to fully digest dairy proteins or a particular sugar found in dairy products, called “lactose.” Vegetarian sources of calcium can provide substantial levels of calcium with just a fraction of the calories of dairy products. For example, 1/4 cup of whole sesame seeds contains 351 mg of calcium, yet has only 206 calories, and four ounces of tofu (calcium-curded) provide almost 400 mg of calcium with only 86 calories. For a comprehensive listing of calcium-rich foods see Calcium - Food Sources.

Here are three tasty recipes to boost your calcium intake: