I can’t have a Micronutrient Monday post on vitamin D and not follow up with its partner in health, calcium. Rather than a vitamin, calcium is an important mineral that supports many tissues, organ systems and functions throughout our body. 

Role of Calcium in the Body

Most of us have been told at one point or another in our lives that calcium is important to grow up strong and healthy. We know that it plays an important role in building strong bones and teeth, but it also plays many other important roles throughout our body. Our bodies use calcium for,

    • Blood clotting 
    • Sending nerve signals 
    • Enzyme rections 
    • Controlling heart beat

How Much Calcium Do I Need?

Health Canada recommends healthy adults between the ages of 19 and 70 consume between 1,000 to 1,200 mg of calcium each day. Additionally, they recommend that children between the ages of 9 and 18 consume approximately 1,300 mg each day. Recommended calcium intake can vary based on various factors such as age and sex. You can check out Health Canada’s website for more information and a complete list of calcium requirements.

Am I Calcium Deficient? 

Many Canadians are not consuming enough calcium to meet their body’s requirements. An inadequate intake of calcium can have negative impacts on our health. Calcium deficiency can lead to weak bones and the development of osteoporosis or osteomalacia. In children, calcium deficiency can be particularly problematic as it can lead to the development of rickets. Rickets is a condition that affects bone development, leading to soft, weak bones and bone deformities which can have a lifelong impact. 

Symptoms of low calcium levels include:

  • Muscle aches or cramps
  • Weak and brittle nails
  • Depression
  • Numbness or tingling in hands or feet

Can I Have Too Much Calcium?

It is possible to consume too much calcium! Both men and women between the ages of 19 and 50 should not consume more than 2,500 milligrams of calcium each day. Consuming too much calcium can lead to higher concentrations in our blood and can have negative effects on our health. You can find the maximum calcium intake for other age groups from Health Canada’s website.

Consuming too much calcium can lead to hypercalcemia and hypercalciuria. Hypercalcemia is when there is more than 2.63 mmol/L of calcium in our blood, while hypercalciuria is when there is more than 250 milligrams of calcium per day in our urine. Although hypercalcemia and hypercalciuria rarely occur in healthy individuals, they can result from conditions such as cancer and hyperparathyroidism. Hypercalcemia and hypercalciuria can have many negative impacts on our healthy including,

    • Constipation 
    • Weight loss 
    • Nausea and vomitting 
    • Poor muscle tone 
    • Irregular heart beat

Additionally, excessively high calcium intake may increase our risk of some conditions such as cardiovascular disease and prostate cancer. 

Where Can I Find Calcium?


Many foods in our diet are a good source of calcium, particularly dairy products and dark leafy greens. Some of the richest sources of calcium include:

    • Plain yogurt
    • Orange juice
    • Mozzarella cheese
    • Tofu
    • Soy milk
    • Pink salmon
    • Breakfast cereals
    • Beans
    • Sardines
    • Kale
    • Broccoli
    • Chia seeds


Calcium can also be found in multivitamins, combined with other vitamins or minerals, and as individual dietary supplements. There are many different types of individual dietary calcium supplements including,

    • Calcium carbonate 
    • Calcium citrate 
    • Calcium glutinate 
    • Calcium lactate

Calcium carbonate and calcium citrate are the two most popular forms of calcium supplements as they contain the largest amounts of elemental calcium and are cheap to produce.

Interaction with Medications

Calcium supplements can interact with some medications, while other medications may have a negative effect on the calcium levels within our body. Some medications that may interact with calcium include,

    • Lithium 
    • Some antibiotics 
    • Medications used in HIV treatment 

Before supplementing with any vitamin or mineral, it is important to chat with your doctor or healthcare team to make sure there will be no interaction with other medications you may be taking.

For more on the role of vitamins and minerals in promoting health and supporting our bodies, check out the Micronutrient Monday series.