How do I know if I am getting the right amount of calcium?

Amy Campbell


Calcium is a mineral that is needed for bone health, as well as for helping muscles and nerves work properly. The Food and Nutrition Board, which is a division of the Institute of Medicine of the National Academies determines the amount of calcium that people need to maintain health, based on age and gender. This amount is called the Recommended Dietary Allowance, or RDA, for short. The RDA for women between the ages of 19 and 50 years is 1000 milligrams (mg) of calcium per day; over the age of 50, the RDA increases to 1200 mg per day. The RDA for adult men is 1000 to 1200 mg per day. The amount of calcium is listed on the Nutrition Facts Food label in the form of a percentage. This percentage is based on the Daily Value of calcium, which is set at 1000 mg. So, as an example, if the label on a container of yogurt says that it contains 25 percent of the daily value for calcium, the actual amount of calcium is 25 percent of 1000, or 250 mg. There’s a little bit of math involved, but this calculation can help you determine how much calcium is in foods that have a Nutrition Facts label. You can also look at a government fact sheet on calcium at http://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/Calcium-HealthProfessional/, which will tell you, on average, how much calcium is in various foods.