The number of servings of dairy products each day that are sufficient to ensure that most people consume enough calcium to meet the current RNIs are listed below.

The number of servings of dairy foods needed to meet the calcium RNI for different age groups

Group
Age
Calcium RNI (mg/d)
Servings of dairy foods
Infants
Under 1 year
525
2 - 3
Children
1 - 3 years
350
2
 
4 - 6 years
450
2
 
7 - 10 years
550
2 - 3
Adolescents
Girls 11 - 18 years
800
3
 
Boys 11 - 18 years
1000
3 - 4
Adults
19 years+
700
3
Breast-feeding mothers
 
an extra 550
an extra 2

Sources: DH (1991a); DH (1998); Royal Society of Chemistry and MAFF (1991) and MAFF (1988)

Some people do not consume enough calcium because they mistakenly believe that all types of dairy products contain large amounts of fat. Whole milk contains about 4% fat, semi-skimmed milk contains about 1.7% fat and skimmed milk contains about 0.1% fat. This means that a 200ml glass of milk contains 8g fat if it is whole milk, 3.3g if it is semi-skimmed milk and 0.2g if it is skimmed milk. A carton of low-fat fruit yogurt contains approximately 1g fat, substantially less than other popular snacks such as a piece of flapjack (about 16g fat) or a chocolate bar (about 13g fat). Recent research suggests that factors in milk fat such as conjugated linoleic acid, sphingomyelin and butyric acid may act as anti-carcinogens (see the NDC's Topical Update, Milk - Facts and Fallacies).

All types of milk have a similar calcium content (237mg, 248mg and 249mg calcium per 200ml glass for whole, semi-skimmed and skimmed milk, respectively). The table below shows the amount of calcium in one serving of a variety of different foods.

The amount of calcium in one average sized portion of a variety of different foods

Food
Amount of calcium in one serving (mg)
Glass of whole milk (200ml)
237
Glass of semi-skimmed milk (200ml)
248
Glass of skimmed milk (200ml)
249
Semi-skimmed milk on cereal (100ml)
124
Semi-skimmed milk in a mug of tea/coffee (40ml)
50
Piece of Cheddar cheese (30g)
216
Piece of reduced-fat Cheddar-type cheese (30g)
252
1 tbsp grated Cheddar cheese (10g)
72
Large cheese spread triangle (25g)
105
Small pot of cottage cheese (112g)
82
Cream cheese in a sandwich (30g)
29
Pot of low-fat fruit yogurt (150g)
225
Pot of fruit fromage frais (100g)
86
1 scoop of dairy ice cream (60g)
78
Serving of custard, made with whole milk (120g)
156
Serving of milk pudding (200g)
260
2 large slices of white or brown bread (72g)
72
2 large slices of wholemeal bread (72g)
39
White rice, easy cook, boiled (180g)
32
Serving of Swiss-style muesli (50g)
55
2 plain digestive biscuits (30g)
28
Plain scone (48g)
86
Cooked broccoli (85g)
34
Cooked spinach (90g)
144
Serving of raw watercress (20g)
34
Small can of baked beans (150g)
80
2 tbsp canned red kidney beans (70g)
50
Lentils, dried, boiled in salted water (40g)
9
Medium sized orange (160g)
75
Serving of dried apricots (56g)
52
Blackberries, stewed with sugar (140g)
45
Plain peanuts (50g)
30
Brazil nuts (10g)
17
1 tbsp sesame seeds (12g)
80
Canned sardines in tomato sauce, with bones (100g)
460
Tinned salmon, without bones (100g)
93
Shelled prawns (60g)
90
Cheese and egg quiche (140g)
364
Serving of macaroni cheese (220g)
374
1 medium pancake (110g)
121
Slice of frozen pizza (100g)
180
Soya milk, plain (200ml)
26

Sources: Royal Society of Chemistry and MAFF (1991) and MAFF (1988)

To look in the Knowledge Store at the Dairy Category Click Here

Previous relevant articles
Calcium May Have Many Health Benefits
The Influence of Dietary Calcium Intake on Peak Bone Mass