This Is How Much Calcium You Should Get Everyday

We all know the ads encouraging us to drink milk to build strong bones. Calcium really gets all the credit here — so how much should we be getting every day?

Aside from building strong bones, calcium is an important mineral that our body needs for muscle and nerve health, hormone regulation, and blood mobility throughout the body (via National Institutes of Health). Calcium is the most plentiful mineral in our bodies and is mostly stored in our bones and teeth.

Luckily, there's an abundance of calcium sources in our foods. Dairy is a popular source and for good reason — foods like cheese, yogurt, and milk are widely available and chock full of protein, according to Healthline. Can't stomach dairy? Don't worry. Calcium is found in plenty of other foods, too. Some of the top sources are seeds (like sesame and chia), oily fish (like salmon and sardines), beans and lentils, almonds, leafy greens, and fortified cereals.

If you can't get enough calcium from your diet, you can try calcium supplements, like calcium carbonate or calcium citrate (via Mayo Clinic). These are often combined with other minerals and should be taken with caution, as they can interact with different prescription medications.

How much is enough?

The amount of calcium you need per day depends on a number of factors, like age, sex, and whether you're pregnant or lactating. According to the National Institutes of Health, adults between 19 and 50 years of age need 1,000 mg of calcium per day. Men over 70 years old should consume 1,200 mg per day, along with women over 50 years old. 

It's important that calcium intake is accompanied by vitamin D, which allows calcium to be absorbed by the body (via Hormone Health Network). Even if you're getting enough calcium, if you're vitamin D deficient, the calcium won't be properly absorbed by the body. Dairy is an excellent source of both calcium and vitamin D.

If you're not getting enough calcium, the bones will release it into the blood, according to the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health. If you're gradually, progressively deficient in calcium, you can develop the precursor to osteoporosis, or bone loss, called osteopenia. If you're seriously deficient, you can develop hypocalcemia, symptoms of which include muscle cramping, numbness in fingers, atypical heart rate, and loss of appetite.

However, it's also dangerous to get too much calcium, as some studies show that high levels can increase your risk of heart disease and prostate cancer (via National Institutes of Health). It's important not to exceed the upper limits of daily calcium intake to avoid potential adverse effects on your health.