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How Much Calcium Do You Need Daily?

Lara Pizzorno is the author of “Your Bones: How You Can Prevent Osteoporosis and Have Strong Bones for Life – Naturally” and a member of the American Medical Writers Association with 29 years of experience specializing in bone health.

Recently we asked Lara if she would help us provide a series of short, ongoing videos to help you (our customers and readers) stay up to date on the latest facts and science related to bone health.

In this latest video, Lara discusses one of the most common questions when it comes to calcium. How much do you need, daily? Watch the video below (or read the transcript provided) and let us know what you think in the comments. 🙂

Hello, my name is Lara Pizzorno and I would like to talk with you today about how to have healthy bones. Specifically today our topic is on calcium. How much do you need? And are Americans getting enough? Are YOU getting enough to have healthy bones?

The National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, it’s called NHANES, it’s this huge survey that is run by a government agency in the U.S. to determine whether Americans are getting adequate amounts of important nutrients, and has revealed to us that most Americans are not doing a good job of getting adequate amounts of calcium. The two groups at risk of not getting adequate amounts of calcium from their diet are children age 9-18 and then adults age 51 and older. In the group of children from age 9-18, this is especially important because they are supposed to be accruing 40% of their bone mass that they need to carry them through their lives. And if they don’t get adequate calcium during these important bone-formative years they will be at much higher risk of osteoporosis later. This group of individuals are supposed to be getting 1300mg of calcium a day and from a diet they are getting a maximum of about 935 mg a day, so a serious shortfall.

In the group of us adults from 51 and older, I am in that group and I expect that you may be too if you are listening to this video – we’re supposed to be getting 1200-1500 mg of calcium per day and in actuality, from the diet, we are only getting 674 mg of calcium per day.

This is especially problematic for older adults because we absorb calcium less efficiently than we did when we were children, from the intestines, and we resorb it a lot less efficiently from the kidneys than when we were children or adolescents and we are losing more bone because as you know, we start to resorb more bone much more rapidly as we age. This is due to the falloff in hormones: estrogen in women and testosterone in men.

The estrogen drop off happens sooner in women but men also experience a drop off in the amount of testosterone they produce. In men, some testosterone, a small amount is converted to estrogen and that estrogen is critical for men’s bones. So both sexes really need to make sure that they’re getting enough calcium to make up for the deficits that they are experiencing with age.

A number of studies have been done that show that calcium supplementation can help make up for this shortfall. In postmenopausal women, research has shown that women taking a calcium supplement of just 1000 mg of calcium carbonate, along with 400 IU of vitamin D3, daily, prevented or lessened their risk of hip fracture by 29%. This research was published in The New England Journal of Medicine in 2006.

A very famous calcium researcher named Heaney, published a study in The Journal of The American College of Nutrition in 2000 that shows that women who did not take calcium supplements lost bone at a rate of 1% per year. But women who did take calcium supplements only lost bone at a rate of 0.014% per year. So that’s about a 100% lower rate of bone loss. Calcium supplementation can really help make up the deficits that we experience with age.

And in our next video we’ll discuss what forms of calcium might be good for supplementation. Hope this has been helpful and look forward to talking to you next time!

Author: Lara Pizzorno, MDIV, MA, LMT

Best-selling author of “Your Bones: How You Can Prevent Osteoporosis and Have Strong Bones for Life – Naturally” and a member of the American Medical Writers Association with 30+ years of experience specializing in bone health. Lara is the Editor of Longevity Medicine Review ( as well as a Senior Medical Editor for SaluGenecists Inc., and Integrative Medicine Advisors, LLC.