The recommendation for calcium for adults under 50 is 1000mg/day. But this seems to concern the calcium intake. However the bioavailability of calcium depends a lot on the food eaten. If the calcium intake of a person comes from food containing a considerable amount of inhibitory substances, such as oxalates and phytates, then the actual bioavailable calcium of this person can be quit low.

So what is the recommendation for bioavailable calcium per day, for adults? Or in other terms, what percentage of bioavailability was used to determined this 1000mg/day recommendation?

  • Here a similar question: health.stackexchange.com/questions/154/…
    – Attilio
    Commented Jul 29, 2015 at 9:04
  • Thanks for this Attilio. The answers are providing important clues but nothing related to the actual amount of bioavailable calcium ones should have daily.
    – MagTun
    Commented Jul 29, 2015 at 9:43

1 Answer 1


National Institutes of Health (NIH) Medline Plus website has the same recommendations as the FDA, broken down by age, sex, and pregnancy status. They cite the 2010 Institute of Medicine (IOM) report Dietary Reference Intakes for Calcium and Vitamin D which is very comprehensive and can be downloaded for free.

The report says that:

mean calcium absorption (also referred to as “fractional calcium absorption,” which is the percentage of a given dose of calcium that is absorbed) in men and non-pregnant women—across a wide age range— has been demonstrated to be approximately 25 percent of calcium intake

However, calcium absorption or bioavailability depends on many factors such as: age, sex, pregnancy, metabolic status (such as obesity), Vitamin D intake (promotes absorption), phytic acid and oxalic acid intake (inhibits absorption), amount of calcium intake itself, etc. See p. 38 of the IOM report

In addition, some things increase elimination of calcium from the body and can also reduce absorption, such as: alcohol, caffeine, and high protein consumption. See the NIH Office of Dietary Supplements page for calcium for more.

Lastly but importantly, this 2010 article in American Journal of Clinical Nutrition directly discusses your question concerning how biovailability is taken into account when establishing Dietary Reference Intakes. For calcium, it says the dietary factors considered were phytate and oxalate intake (both of which inhibit absorption).

  • Thanks for this Anna! If I get it right, the mean calcium absorption is 25%, so if the recommendation is to "eat" 1000mg/day then the recommendation for actual calcium absoption should be 250mg/day. Is that right?
    – MagTun
    Commented Jul 28, 2015 at 12:50

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