The body's calcium balance and bone density can be affected by:
e.g., cortisone (unfavourably)
e.g., sex hormones (favourably)
2. physical activity (favourably)
3. vitamin D (from food or formed under the influence of sunlight) (favourably)
4. food and beverage intake
To the extent that any of these factors may be different between men and women, there is
potential for different calcium needs. But, for the majority of men and women, a similar intake
calcium is recommended, currently 800 milligrams per day for adults (
see also appendix 2).
Calcium needs increase to 1100 milligrams per day in the second and third trimesters of
and 1200 milligrams during lactation.
Osteoporosis is particularly common in post-menopausal women. This means that it is
important for women's bones to be in good condition and for calcium balance to be favourable
well before the menopause. But there may still be a case for women, both shortly before and
the menopause to pay particular attention to their calcium intake. Rather than resort to
supplements in the first instance, it is worth knowing which foods are good sources of
mg/100 ml or 100 g
|Sesame seeds* (and similarly tahina or sesame seed paste)||1160|
|Milk (low fat allows more calcium per kilojoule or kilocalorie)||120|
|Wholemeal wheat flour*||40|
|Green leafy vegetables* (for example, cabbage, endive leaves)||30-80|
* Calcium is less bioavailable (usable by the body) in plant foods than it is
in animal-derived foods.
Recent evidence indicates that the bioavailability of calcium from food is, in general, better
from calcium supplements.
In making these food choices, it is important not to compromise calcium balance by
foods which adversely affect it. For example, it is better to choose a low sodium dairy product
like milk or yoghurt, than a high sodium one like cheese.