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How much calcium do you need? Plus sources you haven’t thought of

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Calcium is important for bone health, and muscle contraction and plays an important synergistic role with vitamin D3. With certain medications like prednisone, we are at increased risk of lowered calcium. To check out some of calcium’s other functions- check out our deep dive HERE.

How Much Calcium Do You Need?

Did you know calcium needs change throughout our lives? Pregnancy and age increase our demand for calcium which is why needs in the chart are slightly higher.

Just like vitamin D, it is possible to get too much calcium so it’s important to not overdo calcium if supplementing. If you aren’t supplementing calcium, you probably don’t need to worry about overdoing calcium-rich sources in the context of a diverse diet.

AgeCalcium RecommendationsUpper Limit (do not exceed)
0-6 months200 mg1000 mg
7-12 months260 mg1500 mg
1-3 years700 mg2500 mg
4-8 years 1000 mg3000 mg
9-18 years1300 mg2500 mg
19-50 years1000 mg2000 mg
51-70 years1000 mg (male), 1200 mg (female)2000 mg
70 years and older1200 mg2000 mg
Pregnancy & Lactation (under 18 years old)1300 mg3000 mg
Pregnancy & Lactation (over 18 years old)1000 mg2500 mg

Calcium – Non-dairy Sources

We typically only hear about dairy products as being calcium-rich. However, there are other sources to find calcium in. Since dairy is often not well tolerated in IBD- it’s great to know that there are other ways you can still get calcium!

Check out the chart below for some calcium-rich foods with serving amounts and doses of calcium in each. Also, one of my favorite foods to include with some calcium is Tahini! Check out more HERE.

Food SourceServing Size / Dosing
Tofu500 mg (¾ cup) 
Fortified Milk Alternative300 mg (1 cup) 
Chia Seed68 mg (1 Tbsp)
Salmon or Sardines (canned with bones)200 mg (2.5oz) 
Kale106 mg (1 cup) 
Collard Greens88 mg (1 cup)  
White Beans85 mg (½ cup) 
Chia Seeds68 mg (1 Tbsp)
Almond Butter56 mg (1 Tbsp)
Edamame37 mg (½ cup)
Dried Figs13 mg (1 fig)

Is it Possible to Get Enough Calcium without Dairy in the Diet?

In the US, milk is marketed as almost the only go-to source of calcium. However, it is possible to get enough calcium in the diet without dairy intake.

Here is an example day: 1500 mg Calcium

  • Breakfast: Oatmeal with soy milk (300 mg, 1 cup), almond butter (56 mg, 1 TBSP), chia seeds (68 mg) and berries
  • Lunch: Baked Salmon (240 mg, 3 ounces) with rice, white beans (85 mg, 1/2 cup) and green beans
  • Dinner: Tofu (670 mg, 1 cup) in stir fry with tolerable vegetables & steamed kale (106 mg, 1 cup)