How much calcium do I need and what is the best way to obtain it in the diet?

Calcium is essential for the heart to beat, nerve impulses, and a healthy skeleton. Calcium is lost on a daily basis and must be replaced. 80% of young women and teenage girls are not consuming enough calcium. Soft drink consumption, intolerance or allergy to milk and concern about weight gain with mild products lower calcium intake. Adequate protein, magnesium and phosphorus are other components from food needed for building strong bones.

Daily Elemental Calcium Needs (American Dietetics Association)
Age (years)
Adequate Intake (mg)
9-18 (highest calcium demand)

Talk to your health care provider about your calcium needs, any risks in taking more calcium and any effect on other medications you take. Too much calcium, usually >2000 mg/day can be associated with kidney stones. Always take calcium with 8 ounces of water wheter liquid, chewable, or pill form. READ THE LABEL. Look for Aelemental@ calcium. Depending on which calcium "salt" (carbonate, citrate or lactate) determines what percentage of calcium you are actually receiving, e.g., 1250 mg of calcium carbonate is equivalent to 500 mg of elemental calcium. If you take 500 mg or more, divide the dases at different times of the day to get the best absorption of the calcium. Vitamin D helps the body absorb calcium and may be included with the calcium pill. Calcium carbonate is the most commonly used form. It has the highest percentage of elemental calcium. Stomach acid dissolves this pill. "Natural" sources of calcium carbonate (bone meal, dolomite or oyster shell) have come under fire due to high levels of lead. This has not been seen with synthetic calcium carbonate. This preparation is best taken an hour after food. Calcium citrate is good for people who have low stomach acid or take medicine to lower the acid in the stomach. It has a lower percentage of calcium but it dissolves more easily in a neutral environment.

Benefits of calcium supplementation include: attaining peak bone mass, reduction of bone loss and tooth loss.