How much do you need? Take a look at the table below.
Birth to 6 months
Infants 7-12 months
Children 1-3 years
Children 4-8 years
Children 9-13 years
Teens 14-18 years
Adults 19-50 years
Adult men 51-70 years
Adult women 51-70 years
Adults 71 years and older
Pregnant and breastfeeding teens
Pregnant and breastfeeding adults
*Source: Institute of Medicine, 2010
Ways to Get Enough Calcium
Start with the Dairy Group. Dairy Group foods such as milk, cheese and yogurt are packed with calcium. MyPlate recommends 3 cups of Dairy Group foods daily (2 cups for 2-3 year olds, 2 ½ cups for 4-8 year olds). Choose low fat or fat free varieties. Try these ideas:
Wake up with a fat free latte (half coffee, half fat free milk).
Tote a yogurt in your lunch.
Snack on a reduced-fat 2% milk cheese stick and whole grain crackers.
Try a grilled cheese sandwich and tomato soup made with milk instead of water.
Satisfy your sweet tooth with Jell-O Instant Pudding, prepared with milk.
Look beyond the dairy case. Calcium-fortified cereals, fruit juices, soymilk, bread and cereal bars are other sources of calcium. Look for products that say “Calcium Rich,” “Added Calcium” or “Good Source of Calcium.” Almonds, sardines, canned salmon (leave in the bones!), tofu and green vegetables also contribute some calcium.
Get the Nutrition Facts. Use the Nutrition Facts panel on packaged foods to track the amount of calcium you consume and compare it to the amount you should get for the day.
Don’t forget D. Vitamin D helps your body absorb and use calcium. Food sources of vitamin D include fortified dairy products, fish and eggs. Your body also produces vitamin D when your skin is exposed to sunlight.
Move those bones! Weight-bearing types of physical activity help strengthen bones and slow bone loss. Try walking, jogging, dancing, playing tennis or basketball, jumping rope, aerobic dancing and weight lifting. Aim for at least 30 minutes (60 minutes for kids) of physical activity daily. Learn more about physical activity.
For More Information
Do you like milk, but it doesn’t like you? You might be lactose sensitive. Tips for the Lactose-Sensitive.