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Calcium

CalciumEnsuring a healthy, balanced gluten-free diet that is rich in calcium is important to help keep your bones healthy and reduce the risk of osteoporosis.

People with coeliac disease may have an increased need for calcium compared to the general adult population.

Recommended intake

Adults with coeliac disease should have at least 1,000 milligrams (mg) of calcium each day. The recommended amount for the general population is 700mg.

 

Good sources of calcium that are gluten-free:

Food per servingPortion sizeCalcium
Skimmed milk 200ml 248mg
Semi skimmed milk 200ml 244mg
Calcium enriched milk alternative e.g. soya milk or almond milk* 200ml 240mg
Tinned sardines with bones 1/2 can, drained (42g) 230mg
Cheddar cheese 30g 220mg
Canned rice pudding* 1/2 can (200g) 176mg
Sesame seeds 2 teaspoons 170mg
Pot of Yoghurt* 125g 170mg
Fromage frais* 2 x 47g pots 140mg
Pot of soya yoghurt* 100g 120mg
Kale 3 tablespoons (80g) 120mg
Baked beans* 1/2 tin 105mg
Kidney beans 120g 85mg
Dried figs 30g 75mg
Orange 1 70mg
Almonds 30g 70mg
Gluten-free bread* 2 slices 70mg
Broccoli 3 tablespoons (80g) 32mg
Dried apricots 30g 30mg

*check your Food and Drink Directory for suitable products

Vitamin D

Your body needs vitamin D to absorb enough calcium.

Vitamin D is made by the skin from spending time in the sun. The amount of vitamin D people make will depend on how strong the sunlight is. In the UK, people will get more vitamin D from sunlight in the months between March and September but will have difficulty getting enough vitamin D in the winter months. Good food sources of vitamin D are oily fish, eggs, margarine and fortified breakfast cereals.

Public Health England and the Scottish Government provide advice on vitamin D intakes, based on recommendations from the Scientific Advisory Committee on Nutrition saying:

  • Everyone in the general population aged 4 years and older, is recommended to have an intake of 10 micrograms of vitamin D per day. In the winter months they may struggle to get enough vitamin D and should consider taking a daily supplement containing 10 micrograms of vitamin D, from October to February.
  • All infants from birth to one year of age should have an intake of between 8.5 to 10 micrograms per day. This should be as a daily supplement, unless the infant is having more than 500ml of infant formula a day, as formula milk is already fortified with vitamin D.
  • Children aged one to four years should have a supplement of 10 micrograms per day, all year round.
  • Pregnant and breastfeeding women should consider taking a daily supplement of 10 micrograms vitamin D
  • Those in groups at risk of vitamin D deficiency, such as those who are housebound, older people, those with darker skin tones and those who cover their skin completely when outside, should consider taking a supplement of 10 micrograms of vitamin D per day, all year round.

Supplements

If you can’t get all the calcium you need from your diet and your calcium levels are low, you may need to take a calcium supplement. Some calcium supplements are combined with vitamin D.

If you feel you may need supplements, speak to your doctor or dietitian who will provide further advice and if necessary prescribe supplements.

Your consultant will be able to advise if you require medication in order to lower the risk of bones breaking in the future. Bisphosphonates are most commonly used to treat osteoporosis – these drugs slow down the rate of bone loss. However, depending on individual circumstances, other drug treatments may be needed.

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