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Informed Health Online [Internet]. Cologne, Germany: Institute for Quality and Efficiency in Health Care (IQWiG); 2006-.

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How can I get enough calcium?

Created: ; Last Update: April 9, 2014; Next update: 2018.

The German Osteology Association (DVO) recommends that adults get between 1,000 and 1,500 milligrams (mg) of calcium per day. You can get this amount in your diet by consuming foods and drinks that have calcium in them. Food products that are particularly high in calcium include cow's milk, yoghurt, cheeses like gouda and emmental cheese, green vegetables such as spinach and broccoli, as well as calcium-rich mineral water (more than 150 mg calcium per liter). Dairy products made from low-fat cow's milk also contain a lot of calcium. Some food products, such as certain breakfast cereals and juices, are fortified with calcium.

If you eat and drink the following foods over the course of one day you will get a total of about 1,000 mg of calcium:

  • 2 slices of rye bread or whole grain bread,
  • 2 slices of gouda, edam or emmental cheese,
  • 1 serving of broccoli,
  • 2 glasses of mineral water, and
  • 1 pot of yoghurt (200 g).

or

  • 2 glasses of milk (200 ml each),
  • 2 slices of rye bread or whole grain bread,
  • 2 servings of camembert cheese, and
  • 1 serving of spinach.

or

  • 1 pot of yoghurt (200 g),
  • 1 serving of muesli (50 g),
  • with milk (100 ml),
  • 1 slice of rye bread or whole grain bread,
  • 1 slice of gouda, edam or emmental cheese,
  • 1 serving of green cabbage, and
  • 1 glass of mineral water.

If you do not drink cow's milk or eat dairy products made from cow's milk, it will be considerably more difficult for you to get enough calcium in your diet. In that case, suitable sources of calcium would include green vegetables like spinach leaves, green cabbage, fennel and broccoli, as well as soy milk, nuts, calcium-rich mineral water and food products that are fortified with calcium.

This table can help you to calculate roughly how much calcium you get in a typical day:

Cow's milk and dairy products made from cow's milk

Food product Serving sizeCalcium in mg/serving
Cow's milk, Kefir200 ml (1 glass)240
Yoghurt200 ml (1 pot)260
Quark 35 g40
Gouda or
edam cheese
30 g (1 slice)240
Emmental or
alpine cheese
30 g (1 slice)330
Camembert cheese30 g150
Parmesan cheese30 g360
Brie cheese30 g80
Sheep's cheese,
Feta cheese 
30 g135

Vegetables

Food productServing sizeCalcium in mg/serving
Broccoli (cooked)110 g120
Spinach (cooked) 210 g310
Green cabbage (cooked)160 g280

Bread, muesli

Food productServing sizeCalcium in mg/serving
Rye bread, whole grain bread1 slice10
Muesli50 g25
Breakfast cereals50 g80

Drinks

Food productServing sizeCalcium in mg/serving
Natural mineral water200 ml70
Soy milk200 ml210

For example, one pot of yoghurt (200 ml) contains about 260 mg calcium, and one serving of cooked spinach contains about 310 g calcium.

Please note that this table only includes food products that have a particularly large amount of calcium in them. A lot of other food products contain calcium too and contribute to your total calcium intake, but usually to a lesser extent.

Dietary supplements are not included in the table. If you are taking a supplement that contains calcium, that will increase your calcium intake accordingly.

You can also use our online calcium calculator to find out roughly how much calcium you are getting per day. The calculator is not suitable for children or women who are pregnant or breastfeeding.

Sources

  • Longo DL et al. Harrison’s Principles of internal medicine. New York: McGraw-Hill Companies. 18th ed. 2011.
  • Andreae. Lexikon der Krankheiten und Untersuchungen. Stuttgart: Thieme. 2008.
  • Psychrembel W. Klinisches Wörterbuch.  Berlin: De Gruyter. 2014.
  • IQWiG health information is written with the aim of helping people understand the advantages and disadvantages of the main treatment options and health care services.

    Because IQWiG is a German institute, some of the information provided here is specific to the German health care system. The suitability of any of the described options in an individual case can be determined by talking to a doctor. We do not offer individual consultations.

    Our information is based on the results of good-quality studies. It is written by a team of health care professionals, scientists and editors, and reviewed by external experts. You can find a detailed description of how our health information is produced and updated in our methods.

© IQWiG (Institute for Quality and Efficiency in Health Care)
Bookshelf ID: NBK279330

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