Building Strong Bones


Calcium is essential for building and maintaining strong bones and teeth. It is also important for the functioning of the muscles, including the heart. The amount of calcium a person needs depends on their age. strong bones

You are more at risk of calcium deficiency if you:

  • are on a cow’s milk or lactose free diet
  • have coeliac disease
  • have osteoporosis
  • are breastfeeding
  • are past the menopause

Recommended Daily Calcium Requirements

Age Calcium Requirement   (mg/day)
0-12 months 525
1-3 years 350
4-6 years 450
7-10 years 550
11-18 years 1000 – Male,                   800 – Female
Adults 19+ 700
Pregnant women 700
Breastfeeding mums 1250


Calcium content of average portions of common foodsdairy

Dairy products Portion size Mg of Calcium
Full cream milk (glass) 200mls (approx 7oz) 248
Semi skimmed milk 200mls (approx 7oz) 256
Skimmed milk 200mls (approx 7oz) 258
Cheese-cheddar type 30g 240
Cheese-camembert type 40g 152
Cheese – cottage 50g 30
Cheese spread 25g 150
Butter 10g 1.5
Yoghurt 125g 225
Egg 1 (60g) 30


Dairy alternatives Portion size Mg of Calcium
Calcium fortified soya milk 200mls 260
Calcium fortified  nut milk



200mls 240
Calcium fortified rice milk  *rice milk should not be given to children under5* 200mls 240
Calcium fortified soya yoghurt 125g 150


Cereal foods Portion size Mg of Calcium
Cornflakes 30g 1
Museli  ** 55g 110
Chapattis 50g 33
Bread-white/brown I medium slice 40
Bread- wholemeal I medium slice 20
Bread-future life I medium slice 93


Fish Portion size Mg of Calcium
Canned sardines with bones

Pilchards, canned in tomato sauce

2 fish 275
Canned pilchards with bones 2 fish 260
Salmon canned with bones 100g 213
Shelled prawns 60g (20 prawns) 100




Fruit, vegetables and pulses Portion size Mg of Calcium
Broccoli 85g 34
Spring greens 2 tablespoons 70
Spinach 90g 144
Baked Beans Small can (150g) 80
Boiled lentils 3 tablespoons 25
Kidney beans I tablespoon 25
Hummus I tablespoon 12
Peanuts Small bag (50g) 30
Almonds 13g (6 nuts) 31
Tahini  (sesame seed paste) 1 tablespoon 130
Figs- dried 1 fig (20g) 56
Apricots-dried 7 52


1 large (210g) 70

 Meals and snack ideas to help you get your calcium …

  • Start the day with cereal (calcium-fortified) with milk or a milk substitute (calcium-fortified).
  • Use tinned sardines or pilchards (with the bones) instead of tuna in a sandwich or on toast.
  • Have a stir fry including tofu, broccoli spears and chopped nuts for lunch or dinner.
  • Add yoghurt/soya yoghurt to fruit as a pudding or use milk or a milk substitute (calcium-fortified) to make custard and milk puddings.
  • Try a glass of low-fat milk as a snack or to help rehydrate after exercising.
  • Don’t forget that low-fat dairy products have as much and often more calcium than the full-fat versions.
  • Remember to check non-dairy sources have added or are ‘fortified’ with calcium.

 strong bones2Vitamin D

Vitamin D helps the absorption of calcium from foods. Foods rich in vitamin D include: oily fish, margarine and fortified breakfast cereals but you cannot get enough vitamin D from food alone. Most of our vitamin D is made by the action of sunlight on the skin so make sure to take advantage of this by going out of doors regularly. Young babies should take a vitamin D supplement providing 8.5-10mcg Vitamin D unless they are drinking more than 500ml formula.

 Are calcium supplements necessary?

If you think you or your child are not meeting your calcium requiements, discuss the need for supplements with your dietitian.

Megan Marshall, Registered Dietitian