All teenagers 10-18 years of age require approximately 1,000 mg of calcium per day in order to maintain strong bones and teeth.

“Calcium is also important for other body functions like regulating your heartbeat and muscle contractions,” says Ethel Lim, Dietitian, from the Department of Nutrition and Dietetics at KK Women’s and Children’s Hospital (KKH), a member of the SingHealth group.

Excellent sources of calcium are predominantly dairy products such as milk, yogurt and cheese.

What does high calcium mean?

You will notice that milk with ‘high calcium’ stated on its packaging will likely be fortified with additional calcium, such that each cup (250ml) of milk will contain 500mg of calcium. Without additional fortification, regular milk will likely contain between 250-300mg of calcium per cup.

Other fortified foods that are high in calcium include:

  • ‘High-calcium’ soya milks
  • Calcium-enriched 3-in-1 malt drinks
  • High-calcium milk bread

It will be useful to check the labels of food products in order to determine the calcium content. The table below displays other foods apart from milk and dairy products that are good sources of calcium:

Item ​Serving Size ​Calcium Content (mg)

​Tofu

Tofu

1 carton

​200
Chickpeas
Chickpeas
1 cup​210
Sardine (including bones)
Sardines
​1 medium​250
Dried Figs
Dried Figs
​5 ​140

Vitamin D helps you absorb calcium better

Adequate vitamin D is essential for optimal calcium absorption. Our bodies can get adequate vitamin D, mostly by exposure to the sun. Thus, it is important to spend 10-15 minutes outdoors every day (but avoiding the hottest periods from 11am-3pm to reduce risk of heat stroke or skin cancer).

However, for people with limited sun exposure, their diet becomes an important source of vitamin D.

Foods that are rich in vitamin D include:

  1. Milk
  2. Salmon
  3. Mackerel
  4. Sardines
  5. Eel
  6. Egg yolk
  7. Fortified margarine

Ref: M19