Calcium has several important functions.
- 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