Calcium gives our bones strength and density.

How does calcium affect your bones?

Calcium is a mineral that is about 1.5% of our body weight with approximately 99% in the bones and teeth. Calcium combines with phosphorus to create calcium phosphate, the major component of the bone mineral complex, hydroxyapatite.

To support several functions essential to life, 1% of your body’s calcium stays in the blood. Muscles need calcium to contract, nerves need calcium to carry messages, and blood vessels need calcium to circulate blood. The hormones and enzymes that calcium helps to release affect many functions of the body.

My calcium story

My first experience with calcium was in my twenties when I took a calcium/magnesium supplement to help me sleep. In 2005, I read The pH Miracle by Robert O. Young which convinced me that balancing pH was important for health. I began testing my pH and taking calcium carbonate to raise my pH which tends to be acidic. I found that calcium carbonate made my body more alkaline, calcium lactate more acidic.

Today, I include calcium-rich foods in my diet – sardines, dairy, and broccoli. I also take a calcium supplement. I’m experimenting with calcium citrate and magnesium bicarbonate between meals to raise my pH which still tends to be acidic.

Which foods are rich in calcium?

Dairy: raw, organic, 100% grass-fed milk, yogurt, kefir, and cheese.
Seafood: fish with edible soft bones such as sardines and salmon.
Plants: Chinese mustard greens, napa cabbage, and bok choy.

Processed foods may be fortified with calcium and contain high levels. For example, one brand of almond milk I checked contained 450 mg (milligrams) per cup.

How much calcium do you need?

According to the Food and Nutrition Board (FNB) at the Institute of Medicine, the Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA) for calcium is 1000 milligrams (mg) per day for adults, 1200 for women over 50, 1200 for men over 70. RDA is the amount of a nutrient the FNB estimates is required to meet the nutritional needs of nearly all healthy people.

Food labels specify the amount of calcium as the percent of daily value, currently 1300 milligrams. To get the actual amount multiply the percent daily value in a serving by 1300. For example, a one ounce serving of 100% grass-fed cheese is 15% of its daily value or 195 mg (1300 times .15).

Your dietary requirements are unique, Please consult your healthcare provider for advice on your particular needs.

Recipes rich in calcium

Sardine salad recipe

Which calcium rich foods do you like?

Let me know your favorites in the comments below – I’d love to hear from you.


For more information:

Your Bones by Lara Pizzorno, MA with Jonathan V. Wright, MD

Vitamin and Minerals 101 by Chris Masterjohn, PhD

Vitamin and Mineral Supplement Fact Sheets

Daily Value on the New Nutrition and Supplement Facts Labels

Daily Values