Calcium has several important functions.

These include:

  • helping build strong bones and teeth
  • regulating muscle contractions, including your heartbeat
  • making sure blood clots normally

A lack of calcium could lead to a condition called rickets in children. Adults can develop osteomalacia or osteoporosis in later life.

You should be able to get all the calcium you need by eating a varied and balanced diet.

If you take calcium supplements, do not take too much as this could be harmful. Taking 1,500mg or less a day is unlikely to cause any harm.

Sources of calcium

Sources of calcium include:

  • milk, cheese and other dairy foods
  • green leafy vegetables – such as curly kale, okra and spinach
  • soya drinks with added calcium
  • bread and anything made with fortified flour
  • fish where you eat the bones – such as sardines and pilchards

How much calcium you need

Adults aged 19 to 64 need 700mg of calcium a day.

You should be able to get all the calcium you need from your daily diet.

Effects of taking too much calcium

Taking high doses of calcium (more than 1,500mg a day) could lead to stomach pain and diarrhoea.


Content supplied by the NHS and adapted for Ireland by the HSE

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This project has received funding from the Government of Ireland’s Sláintecare Integration Fund 2019 under Grant Agreement Number 123.

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