Almost all your calcium is stored in your bones and teeth – 99% to be exact. The rest of the calcium circulates throughout your blood and soft tissue. When you don’t get enough calcium in your diet, your body has to pull it from your bones to ensure the calcium in your blood is tightly regulated. Over time, this can make your bones very weak.
Milk, yogurt, and cheese are great sources of calcium. But you can also get calcium from other natural sources including dark green vegetables, like spinach, kale and collard greens, canned sardines (with the bones), or tofu. There are also foods that are fortified with calcium, like orange juice or cereals.
And if you have kids, be sure that they’re getting enough too. According to the National Institute of Health, 90% of peak bone mass is acquired by age 18 in girls and by age 20 in boys. You can keep accumulating bone mass up to around age 30, but at that point they’ve pretty much reached their maximum strength and density. This means you want your children to get enough calcium throughout childhood and adolescence to ensure a strong start to their bone health. Make sure your school-age kids are getting at least 3 servings of dairy or a balance of dairy and other calcium rich choices. After age 30, it’s of course important to maintain bone strength by eating enough calcium and Vitamin D and doing weight bearing cardiovascular and resistance exercises.