Do I need a calcium supplement?

Calcium is a mineral that we get through our diets. The amount you get is really dependent on what you’re eating on a regular basis.

What is it good for?

Most of you probably think of calcium in relation to bone health. Aaand, we definitely need adequate calcium for bone health. The other two primary components of strong bones are exercise and vitamin D adequacy. An important thing to remember here is that we put on most of our bone mass before we reach 20 years of age. We put on a bit more until our early 30s, and then we slowly start to lose bone mass. Post-menopause, we start to lose it a bit more rapidly.

We need calcium for other things as well, like heart health, blood pressure, your teeth, muscle function, and mood.

Sometimes, we actually use high doses of calcium to treat PMS!

How do I get calcium?

Calcium is a fairly abundant mineral, and many foods are fortified with it. Here are some sources:

  • spinach
  • collard greens
  • sesame seeds
  • bok choy
  • broccoli
  • fortified cow’s and plant-based milk
  • beans
  • mackerel
  • salmon
  • yoghurt
  • tofu

Check out this list from Osteoporosis Canada.

How much do I need?

Most adults need around 1000mg of calcium per day. If you’re past menopause, you likely need a bit more: ~1200mg per day.

Do I need to supplement?

Well, this is a question for you and your healthcare team to answer, especially if you’re taking other meds and supplements. I talk to patients about calcium very frequently (especially in the last few years) because, as we age, fractures and bone breaks significantly affect quality of life as well as mortality rates (think about being bed-ridden, losing muscle mass, an increased risk of developing clots, etc.). The key is to protect your bone as much as possible!

To get you started, here’s the Osteoporosis Canada Calcium Calculator so you can approximate your daily intake of calcium and relay that to your naturopathic or medical doctor!

Calcium in scrabble tiles surrounded by seeds, greens, tofu, and cheese