Institute of Medicines Recommendations on Calcium

Pam Flores @phflores Health Guide
  • Are you taking the correct amount of calcium (Ca)? 


    We know that calcium and vitamin D are very important for good bone health, but some of the recent recommendations have confused many on this topic.  These recommendations are intended for healthy adults to prevent further disease, so if you have health issues that affect the absorption of calcium, you may need to tweak your calcium intake depending on your individual needs.  Let's also keep in mind that these are recommendations, they are not written in stone, they may not apply to all if you have a condition that requires more or less of a nutrient.  The best way to determine your needs is to have your physician test your levels of calcium, and then follow up with your Dr's assessment of what you need to consume per day. 

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    The best way to get calcium is through your diet first.  Since many of our foods are fortified with calcium now, we need to watch the amount we get, because some may not need additional supplements if their diet is high in calcium.  With this addition of calcium in fortified foods, we are seeing some problems with over-use that could lead to hypercalcemia (high Ca levels in blood) that are particularly common in older patients.


    Our bodies can only assimilate 500 milligrams (mgs) of calcium per serving, so calculate what you eat, and then repeat this at each meal to see what your total is.  If this figure is below the recommendation, or your Dr's recommendation for your individual needs, then supplement with an amount of oral calcium that would total what you should have for the day that you are not getting through your diet.


    Some of us may have reasons to take less or more, like having a history of hypercalcemia or hypocalcemia (low blood levels of Ca).  I truly believe we are all intelligent enough to know that these recommendations are not applicable to all based on our health history, so be sure to keep in mind your personal needs first since they may not be exactly what is recommended.


    The following information comes from the Institute of Medicines (IOM) on daily calcium intake from all sources, including diet and supplements.



            Recommended Daily Allowance (RDA) of Calcium from the IOM


    Ages 1-3

    700 mg of calcium per day

    Ages 4-8

    1,000 mg per day


    1,500 mg per day

    Women 19-50

    1,000 mg per day

    Men up to the age of 70

    1,000 mg per day

    Women 51 and older

    1,200 mg per day

    Men over 71

    1,200 mg per day


    "However, Patsy Brannon, Ph.D., professor in the Division of Nutritional Sciences at Cornell University in Ithaca, N.Y., cautioned that some older Americans are at risk for hypercalcemia because of the misuse of supplements."

    "Ross said the committee's recommendations are intended for prevention of disease in healthy people. People with chronic conditions should talk to their health care professionals about the levels of vitamin D and calcium they should be receiving, Brannon said. Some chronic conditions, such as kidney disease, affect metabolism of those nutrients."


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    If you have questions about the amount of calcium you should get from all sources (diet and supplements) discuss this with your doctor since he or she is the only one who can answer this appropriately, based on your personal health history.






    American Academy of Family Physicians (AAFP) IOM Updates Guidance on Vitamin D, Calcium, Report Says Deficiency Overestimated Because of Lack of Testing Standards News Staff, December 1, 2010: Retrieved December 18, 2010


Published On: December 19, 2010