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Calcium and bones

Alternative Names

Bone strength and calcium

Information

Calcium is a mineral that is important for making healthy bones. (Phosphorous is another important mineral for healthy bones.)

Calcium cannot be made by the body. The body gets the calcium it needs through the food you eat. If you do not get enough calcium in your diet or if your body does not absorb enough calcium from your diet, bones can weaken or not grow properly.

Bone density refers to how much calcium and other types of minerals are present in a section of your bone. Bone density is highest between ages 25 - 35 and decreases after that. This can result in brittle, fragile bones that are prone to fractures, even without injury.

As you age, your body still needs calcium to keep your bones dense and strong.

Get at least 1,200 milligrams per day of calcium and 800 - 1,000 international units of vitamin D. Vitamin D helps your body absorb calcium. Your doctor may recommend a supplement to give you the calcium and vitamin D you need.

Follow a diet that provides the proper amount of calcium, vitamin D, and protein. Although this will not completely stop bone loss, it will ensure that a supply of the materials the body uses to form and maintain bones is available.

High-calcium foods include:

  • Cheese
  • Ice cream
  • Leafy green vegetables, such as spinach and collard greens
  • Low-fat milk
  • Salmon
  • Sardines (with the bones)
  • Tofu
  • Yogurt

Review Date: 11/15/2012
Reviewed By: C. Benjamin Ma, MD, Assistant Professor, Chief, Sports Medicine and Shoulder Service, UCSF Department of Orthopaedic Surgery. Also reviewed by A.D.A.M. Health Solutions, Ebix, Inc., Editorial Team: David Zieve, MD, MHA, David R. Eltz, Stephanie Slon, and Nissi Wang.
The information provided herein should not be used during any medical emergency or for the diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition. A licensed medical professional should be consulted for diagnosis and treatment of any and all medical conditions. Call 911 for all medical emergencies. Links to other sites are provided for information only -- they do not constitute endorsements of those other sites. © 1997- A.D.A.M., Inc. Any duplication or distribution of the information contained herein is strictly prohibited.
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