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There is more calcium in the body than any other mineral and it has several important functions. These include:
helping build strong bones and teeth
regulating muscle contractions, including heartbeat
ensuring blood clots normally
It is thought that calcium may help lower high blood pressure and protect against colon and breast cancer, although more evidence is needed to confirm this. A lack of calcium could lead to a condition called rickets in children or osteoporosis in later life.
Good sources of calcium
Good sources of calcium include:
milk, cheese and other dairy foods
green leafy vegetables, such as broccoli, cabbage and okra, but not spinach
soya drinks with added calcium
bread and anything made with fortified flour
fish where you eat the bones, such as sardines and pilchards
How much calcium do I need?
Adults need 700mg of calcium a day. You should be able to get all the calcium you need from your daily diet.
What happens if I take too much calcium?
Taking high doses of calcium (over 1500mg a day) could lead to stomach pain and diarrhoea. You should be able to get all the calcium you need by eating a varied and balanced diet. If you take calcium supplements, do not take too much. Taking 1,500mg or less a day is unlikely to cause any harm.