Calcium has several important functions in the body. It's good for your bones, it's also important for muscle and nerve function and for blood pressure and blood clotting.
If you drink ½ litre milk and eat two slices of cheese, your daily calcium requirements will be covered.
You can also get calcium from other foods than dairy products, but for most people, it will be difficult to get enough calcium from these sources. This is due to the fact that it requires a lot of knowledge about nutrients in food products, and quite substantial changes to most peoples diet, in order to meet the requriements on a dairy free diet.
Best sources of calcium
This is an overview of the best sources of calcium, including how many grams of each product you need to eat on a daily basis in order to get the same amount of calcium as you would from ½ litre milk.
½ litre = 2 glasses of milk
4½ dl = 2 portions of yoghurt
Yellow cheese 45+
95 gram = 5 slices of cheese
Sardines in oil
150 gram = Slightly more than one tin
Whole meal bread
620 gram = 1½ florets
Remember that calcium in many vegetables can be difficult for the body to absorb so that in many cases, you must eat more than the stated amount.
Absorption of calcium depends on other components
The body’s capacity for absorbing the calcium in your food depends on the other components in your diet. This is particularly the case with phytic acid and oxalic acid. Phytic acid is found in most grain products linked to calcium and its presence means that calcium is not easily absorbed. Heat treatment, however, releases calcium.
Oxalic acid is found in vegetables such as spinach, rhubarb and tea and impedes the uptake of calcium from food. This is why the other components in a diet must be borne in mind when determining the recommended amount of calcium.
Vitamin D necessary to absorb calcium
It is known that the body’s ability to absorb calcium also depends on the amount of vitamin D, since vitamin D is a necessary factor in the body’s absorption of calcium. Vitamin D is a vitamin that can be produced in your skin when it is exposed to the sun. In Northern European countries where there are many months without very much sun, many people have a low vitamin D status. In these countries, people should have more calcium to ensure adequate uptake.
One’s level of physical activity also affects how calcium is absorbed in the body. The more physically active you are the greater the absorption.
For additional reading, download the full report “Human Vitamins and Minerals Requirements”