Calcium for healthy bones
We need calcium from our diet to give our bones structure and strength. Calcium in the bones acts a bit like a reservoir where the body is constantly withdrawing and depositing calcium.
Whilst 99% of the calcium found in our bodies is found in our bones, a small amount is absorbed into the blood where it’s essential for the healthy functioning of the heart, muscles, blood and nerves.
Calcium in our diet is an important factor in healthy ageing.
- If your body withdraws more calcium than it deposits, bone density (bone strength) gradually declines and there´s a risk of developing osteoporosis.
Less than half of all Australian adults get their daily recommended intake of calcium.
What can affect our calcium absorption?
We don’t absorb all the calcium that we consume from food and drink. However certain factors can lead to very low absorption levels and should be discussed with your doctor, for example:
- Low vitamin D levels
- Excessive caffeine and alcohol
- Diets high in phytates (eg: some cereals and brans) or oxalates (eg: spinach, rhubarb)
- Certain medical conditions and medicines
Tips for increasing calcium intake
Calcium content in food varies significantly, so it´s important to aim to eat 'calcium rich' foods.
- Include calcium from dairy - milk, yoghurt or cheese.
- Try canned salmon or sardines which contain soft bones.
- Add yoghurt to soups or salads.
- Choose soy products and tofu containing added calcium.
- Include broccoli, mustard cabbage, Bok Choy, silverbeet, celery and chick peas in your regular diet.
- Include more almonds in your diet.
- Look for products including breakfast cereals that are fortified with calcium.
Three serves of dairy can help you achieve your calcium requirements, for example, 250ml milk + 200g tub yoghurt + 40g slice cheese.
- Australian Health Survey: Usual Nutrient Intakes. Available at https://www.abs.gov.au/statistics/health/health-conditions-and-risks/australian-health-survey-usual-nutrient-intakes/latest-release. Accessed November 2021.