How much calcium does your body need throughout your life?
Browse the categories below to see your calcium needs at each stage of life.
Most calcium is deposited around infancy and puberty; in fact, half of the calcium deposition in bones occurs during puberty. Calcium is vital during this period for building a solid foundation which will support the body in the years ahead.
Between the ages of 9 and 17 years, some 45% of the adult skeleton is acquired. Once adult height is achieved, calcium steadily increases during a phase called "bone consolidation", after which the adult has achieved his or her peak bone mass. By the age of 16.9 years, 90% of the total bone mineral content is reached in females10.
Moderate exercise during adolescence is very important to help build strong bones. Weight-bearing exercise applies tension to muscles and bone, strengthening the bone density. This type of exercise can increase bone density by as much as 2–8% per year11.
10. Weaver C.M., Heaney, R.P (1999): Calcium, in Modern Nutrition in Health and Disease, M.E. Shils (ed) ninth edition, Baltimore: Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Page 151. 11. NY Times Health. (2009):Osteoporosis Lifestyle Changes – Osteoporosis Health Information. http://health.nytimes.com/health/guides/disease/osteoporosis/lifestyle-changes.html Accessed date 17/8/2010.
There is a much slower rate of calcium deposition after adolescence, and by the age of 35 individuals have achieved peak bone mass.
This is the period where life is lived to the full and time is likely to be spent on building a career, exercise, having children, and probably being on a diet containing low-fat dairy products. Often this is when not enough attention is paid to adequate nutrition.
Calcium is also important for women during pregnancy and lactation. The average calcium demand of a developing foetus is 30g at the time of birth. 80% of this calcium is acquired during the third trimester12.
"If the mother does not have adequate dietary calcium before conception or during pregnancy, significant maternal bone density could be lost, possibly putting her at risk for osteoporosis later in life.12"
During lactation, the daily transfer of calcium from mother to baby ranges from 250 mg to 300 mg per day. This means that moms could lose 25 g to 30 g of calcium over a 3-month period of lactation, which represents approximately 3% of her body's calcium stores. Younger moms (under 18 years) could lose as much as 10% bone mass density, and mothers carrying twins have a higher bone density loss than mothers carrying a single foetus12.
12. Heringhausen J., Montgomery K.S., (2005). Maternal Calcium Intake and Metabolism During Pregnancy and Lactation. The Jnl Of Perinatal Education;14(1):52-27.
Unlike younger women, bone breakdown exceeds formation in aging adults, particularly among postmenopausal women, resulting in bone loss that increases the risk of osteoporosis over time.
During menopause, oestrogen production decreases which causes a breakdown in bone as well as decreases calcium absorption, leading to bone loss. It has been found that a decrease in bone mass of between 3 – 5% per year, occurs in the first few years of menopause, thereafter, bone loss slows down to less than 1% per year after the age of 6513.
13. National Institute of Health Office of Dietary Supplements. (2009): Dietary Supplement Fact Sheet. Calcium:Health Professional Fact Sheet. http://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/calcium. Accessed date 1/9/2010.