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Quiz: All about calcium

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Plant foods can provide us with dietary calcium

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Plant foods can provide us with dietary calcium

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  • Correct Answer:

Milk and dairy products aren't the only good source of this essential mineral that helps build strong bones and teeth. Calcium is also found in green leafy vegetables like kale, broccoli, cabbage and okra. Other non-dairy sources include soya beans, tofu, soya milk and tinned fish with soft, edible bones such as sardines, pink salmon or pilchards.

 

It's a little known fact that all UK white flour and products (like white bread) are fortified with calcium – and have been since the Second World War!

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A baby takes calcium from its mum while in the womb. 

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A baby takes calcium from its mum while in the womb. 

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Calcium is essential for building a baby’s bones and teeth – especially during the last 3 months of development in the womb. If you don't get enough dietary calcium your baby takes what it needs from your bones. That's why it's critical for pregnant mums to eat calcium-rich foods while pregnant and breastfeeding. It's best to get your calcium from food, but talk to your GP or midwife about supplements if you feel you aren't getting enough. The good news is that any bone loss is usually made up for after giving birth or weaning.  

Limiting calcium in your diet helps prevent kidney stones.

Limiting calcium in your diet helps prevent kidney stones.

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  • Correct Answer:

Although the most common form of kidney stones contain calcium oxalate, it's not common for dietary calcium to be the cause of stones. Medical problems such as an overactive thyroid or kidney disease increase the risk of calcium stones. Kidney infections and high urine levels of uric acid also cause kidney stones.

Keeping your fluid intake up helps prevent kidney stones of all types, as water helps the kidneys to flush through substances that could cause a kidney stone.

Which of these foods has the most calcium:

Which of these foods has the most calcium:

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  • Correct Answer:

All three are good sources of calcium but it’s their portion size that makes yoghurt our winner. An average 150ml pot of yoghurt can provide around 250mg of calcium, or just over a third of your daily calcium needs. Choose low-fat dairy foods as heart-healthy options, as they are just as rich in calcium as full-fat dairy foods.

What age group requires the most calcium?

What age group requires the most calcium?

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  • Correct Answer:

Most calcium is deposited in the bones during the teenage years, with peak bone mass occurring at about 18 in girls and 20 in boys. Yet in the UK the majority of teenage boys and girls fail to take enough calcium in their diets. Girls (11-18 years) need 800 mg a day and boys (11-18 years) around 1,000 mg. A glass of milk, a matchbox sized piece of low-fat cheese and a pot of yoghurt provide at least three quarters of teens' daily calcium needs.

Your body loses calcium every day. 

Your body loses calcium every day. 

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  • Correct Answer:

Calcium is stored in your bones and teeth but the body loses some each day through skin, hair, sweat and other bodily functions. As you can't make calcium your diet needs to supply your average daily needs. Include dairy foods or fortified soya products, together with green leafy veg and nuts, to easily achieve your daily target.

What role does calcium play in the body?

What role does calcium play in the body?

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Calcium keeps bones healthy. Too little can lead to conditions like rickets and osteoporosis. Calcium plays other roles in the body too. It helps regulate muscle contractions, including your heartbeat, as well as helping with blood clotting and the release of hormones and proteins.

In order to effectively absorb calcium, your body requires: 

In order to effectively absorb calcium, your body requires: 

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Your body needs vitamin D to help absorb calcium. Many people in the UK have low levels of vitamin D, especially older people. Vitamin D deficiency increases bone loss, causes childhood rickets, and also affects our immune system. We can make vitamin D in our skin with sunlight exposure during summer months. Dietary sources include oily fish, egg yolks or fortified spreads and cereals. It is hard to get the daily amount of vitamin D needed from food, and since the summer of 2016, health officials say most adults and children aged 4 and over should consider taking a supplement containing 10 micrograms of vitamin D every day during autumn and winter.

Calcium supplements need to be taken with food.

Calcium supplements need to be taken with food.

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Calcium supplements are sold in different forms but calcium lactate, gluconate, malate and citrate are generally considered best. Calcium carbonate works better with food but calcium citrate can be taken alone. Supplements are usually sold in tablets, chewable tablets and liquids. Seek medical advice about which kind is best for you.

You’ll get more calcium into your system by taking large doses of supplements.

You’ll get more calcium into your system by taking large doses of supplements.

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  • Correct Answer:

Avoid taking calcium in high doses as it can do more harm than good. High doses, over 1500 mg a day, can cause stomach pain and constipation and may limit the amount of the essential minerals iron and zinc absorbed by the body. High dose supplements can interfere with the absorption of some drugs, such as phenytoin (anti-epileptic drug) and thyroxine, and taken long-term may increase risk of heart disease. Supplements of up to 800mg a day are safe and effective, without needing to increase the dose further.

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Your Score:   You correctly answered   out of   questions.
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