Calcium Supplements- perhaps not the way to go?

May 31, 2012 BY: LISA

There is some conflicting evidence in scientific circles about the safety of calcium supplements. Some have shown an increase risk of heart attack in those that take calcium supplements while another study showed that calcium taken with vitamin D was actually beneficial.

So what is the best advice currently?

Professor Graeme Jones from the Menzies Research Institute in Tasmania, stated: “I would still err on the side of taking vitamin D supplements if deficient and calcium supplements only if you can’t get 600-800 mg/day from diet, and then the supplement should be taken with food,” he said (  31/5/2012)

The current advice from Osteoporosis Australia and the British Heart Foundation is to continue taking calcium supplements if they have been prescribed for you- it appears levels over 2000mg per day are the ones in contention.

This means that taking a vitamin D supplement if you are low is good advice however getting your calcium is best done through your food.

According to the Australian Nutrition Survey, about 90 per cent of women and 70 per cent of children do not achieve the recommended dietary intake (RDI) for calcium. (Better health channel)

How much calcium do we need?

You can see by the table below that adolescents and women over 50years have the highest calcium needs and yet often if people are dieting they stop eating dairy products…it’s crazy. Not only because you are lowering your calcium intake but studies have shown that dairy calcium can actually be part of a weight loss diet.

Dairy products are not the only source of calcium in the diet but they are certainly the ones which contain the most calcium. Having a milk based drink or yoghurt as a snack is a great way of increasing your calcium and staving off your hunger until the next meal.

Calcium in Foods

Click here to check out the calcium content of common foods:

Calcium needs vary throughout life

The recommended dietary intake of calcium is different for people of different ages and life stages:

Babies 0–6 months approx. 210mg (if breastfed)approx. 350mg (if bottle fed)
Babies 7–12 months 270mg
Children 1–3 years 500mg
Children 4–8 years 700mg
Children 9–11 years 1,000mg
Adolescents 12–18 years (including pregnant and breastfeeding young women) 1,300mg
Women 19–50 (including pregnant and breastfeeding women) 1,000mg
Women 50–70 1,300mg
Men 19–70 1,000mg
Adults over 70 1,300mg

Check out the better health channel to discover some easy ways to increase your calcium intake:

Enjoy 2-3 serves of calcium per day!



Accredited Practising Dietitian (APD)




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