Calcium Builds Strong Bones

~ March 1998 No.36 ~

Calcium is the most abundant mineral in the body; the bones and teeth accounting for about 99% of the total body stores. Under normal conditions, the composition of bone is relatively constant, with a calcium to phosphorus ratio of 2:1.


The process of bone building is a complex event that involves minerals and hormones that can be greatly influenced by dietary factors. Rickets, a disease common in many third world countries in infants and children, is caused by problems with calcium/phosphorus metabolism and / or low levels of vitamin D. Fortification of some foods with vitamin D has been one way of combating rickets. Loss of bone calcium is a major concern for most people, particularly women, as they age. Osteoporosis, in which the bones of the body thin, has become a major health problem. In an attempt to reverse bone calcium loss, many recent dietary recommendations have been made that encourage an increase the amount of calcium consumed per day.

Increasing calcium intake is not as easy as it may seem, particularly for those who do not like or who do not tolerate milk products. There are other dietary sources of calcium listed below. However, besides the amount of calcium in the diet, bone formation is influenced by other things such as hormones. Recent research is showing that a combination of diet and hormone treatment may be the best defense against osteoporosis.

Bone Inorganic Composition
CompoundChemical Formula% of Bone Ash*
Calcium phosphateCa3(PO4)284
Calcium carbonateCaCO310
Calcium citrateCa3(citrate)22
Magnesium phosphateMg3(PO4)21
Magnesium carbonateMgCO31
Sodium phosphateNa2HPO42


Good Sources of Calcium in the Diet
2% milk250 ml315 mg
skim milk250 ml317 mg
cheddar cheese45 g324 mg
yoghurt (from skim milk)125 g203 mg
cod (panfried)90 g27 mg
mackerel (canned)90 g167 mg
sardines (canned)90 g393 mg
almonds75 g175 mg
sesame seeds58 g673 mg
broccoli180 g158 mg
spinach190 g176 mg
turnip212 g126 mg


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Last modified

July 27 2015