- Calcium and Bone Health
- Calcium is the key to lifelong bone health. Learn how to eat to strengthen your bones and prevent osteoporosis.
- The calcium and osteoporosis connection
- Food is the best source of calcium
- Calcium and whole milk dairy: The pros and cons
- Tips for upping your calcium intake
- Beyond calcium: Other nutrients for healthy bones
- Other tips for building strong bones and preventing osteoporosis
- Calcium supplements: What you need to know
- 18 Surprising Dairy-Free Sources of Calcium
- What Does Calcium Do?
- Calcium-Rich Foods
- Natural Calcium
- Fortified With Calcium
- Calcium-rich foods that vegans can eat
- Increasing Calcium in Your Diet
- 14 Calcium Rich Vegetables
- How much calcium do you really need?
- 1. Collard greens: 357 mg calcium
- 2. Edamame: 261 mg calcium
- 3. Turnip greens: 249 mg calcium
- 4. Nopales: 244 mg calcium
- 5. Kale: 179 mg calcium
- 6. Mustard greens: 165 mg calcium
- 7. Baby bok choy: 158 mg calcium
- 8. Dandelion greens: 147 mg calcium
- 9. Snow peas: 150 mg calcium
- 10. Broccoli rabe: 100 mg calcium
- 11. Acorn squash: 90 mg calcium
- 12. Sweet potatoes: 89 mg calcium
- 13. Stewed tomatoes: 87 mg calcium
- 14. Butternut squash: 84 mg calcium
- Where’s the spinach?
- Where will you get your calcium?
- Your turn:
- What’s the Role of Calcium for Your Health?
- How Much Calcium Do You Need?
- Calcium Myths and Controversies You Need to Know
- 9 Plant-Based, Calcium-Rich Foods
- Plant-Based, Calcium-Rich Foods #1 — Seeds
- Plant-Based, Calcium-Rich Foods #2 — Beans
- Plant-Based, Calcium-Rich Foods #3 — Lentils
- Plant-Based, Calcium-Rich Foods #4 — Almonds
- Plant-Based, Calcium-Rich Foods #5 — Low-Oxalate Leafy Greens
- Plant-Based, Calcium-Rich Foods #6 — Soy
- Plant-Based, Calcium-Rich Foods #7 — Oranges
- Plant-Based, Calcium-Rich Foods #8 — Broccoli Raab (Rapini)
- Plant-Based, Calcium-Rich Foods #9 — Dried Figs
- What About Calcium-Fortified Plant Milks?
- Do Any Factors Affect Calcium Absorption?
- What Happens When You Don’t Get Enough Calcium?
- The Final Word on Calcium
- Eat These 7 Calcium-Rich Fruits To Ensure Healthy Bones And Teeth
- 10 calcium-rich foods for your bones
- 6 Vegetables High in Calcium
- Do Calcium Supplements Work?
Calcium and Bone Health
Calcium is the key to lifelong bone health. Learn how to eat to strengthen your bones and prevent osteoporosis.
Calcium is a key nutrient that many of us overlook in our diets. Almost every cell in the body uses calcium in some way, including the nervous system, muscles, and heart. Your body uses calcium to build healthy bones and teeth, keep them strong as you age, send messages through the nervous system, help your blood clot, your muscles contract, and regulate the heart’s rhythm.
If you don’t get enough calcium in your diet, your body will take it from your bones to ensure normal cell function, which can lead to weakened bones or osteoporosis. Calcium deficiency can contribute to mood problems such as irritability, anxiety, depression, and difficulty sleeping.
Despite these vital functions, many of us are confused about calcium and how to best protect our bones and overall health. How much calcium should you get? Where should you get it? And what’s the deal with vitamin D, magnesium, and other nutrients that help calcium do its job? This confusion means that many of us are not getting the recommended daily amount of calcium and approximately one in two women (and about one in four men) over the age of 50 will break a bone due to osteoporosis.
Getting enough calcium in your diet is not just important for older people. It’s also vital for children, teens, and young adults since we continue building bone mass into our mid-20s. From then on, we can lose bone mass without sufficient calcium in our diets. Whatever your age or gender, it’s vital to include calcium-rich foods in your diet, limit those that deplete calcium, and get enough magnesium and vitamins D and K to help calcium do its job.
The calcium and osteoporosis connection
Osteoporosis is a “silent” disease characterized by loss of bone mass. Due to weakened bones, fractures become commonplace, which leads to serious health risks. People with osteoporosis often don’t recover after a fall and it is the second most common cause of death in women, mostly those aged 60 and older. Men are also at risk of developing osteoporosis, but typically 5 to 10 years later than women. For most people, osteoporosis is preventable, and getting enough calcium in your diet is the first place to start.
Food is the best source of calcium
Doctors recommend that you get as much of your daily calcium needs as possible from food and use only low-dose supplements to make up any shortfall. Your body is better able to absorb calcium from food than it can from supplements. In fact, studies show that even though people who take calcium supplements have a higher average intake, those who get their calcium from food have stronger bones. Furthermore, using high-dose calcium supplements may increase your risk of kidney stones and heart disease.
Good food sources of calcium
Good sources of calcium include dairy products, leafy green vegetables, certain fish, oatmeal and other grains, tofu, cabbage, summer squash, green beans, garlic, sea vegetables and calcium-fortified foods such as cereals and orange juice.
Calcium and whole milk dairy: The pros and cons
While milk and other dairy products contain a lot of calcium in a highly absorbable form, there may be some potential downsides.
Whole milk dairy products are often high in saturated fat. Many prominent health organizations recommend that you limit your saturated fat intake and choose low- or non-fat dairy foods, though an increasing body of research shows that eating whole-milk dairy products is linked to less body fat and lower levels of obesity. Low-fat and non-fat dairy products also tend to contain lots of hidden sugar to make up for the loss of taste, which can be far more detrimental to your health and weight than the saturated fat it’s replaced.
Milk can contain high levels of estrogen. Some studies show a possible link between the natural estrogens found in milk and breast, prostate, and testicular cancer. Part of the problem is modern dairy practices, where the cows are fed synthetic hormones and antibiotics, kept continuously pregnant, and milked over 300 days per year. The more pregnant the cow, the higher the hormones in the milk. Organic milk comes from cows that are grass-fed and not given synthetic hormones or other additives, although organic milk can still be high in natural hormones. Because both natural and synthetic hormones are found in the milk fat, skim milk has a much lower level.
Some people are lactose intolerant, meaning they are unable to digest lactose, a sugar found in milk and milk products. Symptoms range from mild to severe, and include cramping, bloating, gas, and diarrhea. Beyond the discomfort it causes, lactose intolerance can also interfere with calcium absorption from dairy.
Tips for upping your calcium intake
To boost your daily intake, try to include calcium-rich foods in multiple meals or snacks.
Tips for adding more calcium from dairy to your diet
- Use milk instead of water when making oatmeal or other hot breakfast cereals.
- Substitute milk for some of the liquid in soups such as tomato, squash, pumpkin, curries, etc.
- Milk can be added to many sauces or used as the base in sauces such as Alfredo and Béchamel sauce.
- Make whole-wheat pancakes and waffles using milk or yogurt.
- Get creative with plain yogurt. Use it to make a dressing or a dip, or try it on potatoes in place of sour cream.
- Add milk or yogurt to a fruit smoothie. You can even freeze blended smoothies for popsicles.
- Enjoy cheese for dessert or as a snack. Try cheddar, mozzarella, Gouda, jack, Parmesan, or a type of cheese you’ve never had before.
Tips for getting your calcium from non-dairy sources
Greens can easily be added to soups, casseroles, or stir-fries. Opt for kale, collard greens, turnip greens, dandelion greens, mustard greens, beet greens, broccoli, and cabbage. Spice up these and other dishes with garlic, basil, thyme, oregano, and rosemary to add more nutrients.
Eat dark green leafy salads with your meals. Try romaine hearts, arugula, butter lettuce, mesclun, watercress, or red leaf lettuce (avoid iceberg lettuce as it has very little nutrient value).
Add extra servings of veggies to your meals, i.e. asparagus, fresh green peas, broccoli, cabbage, okra, bok choy.
Top salads or make a sandwich with canned fish with bones, such as sardines and pink salmon.
Use beans/legumes as part of your meals. They are wonderful in stews, chili, soup, or as the protein part of a meal. Try tofu, tempeh, black-eyed peas, black beans, and other dried beans. You can also snack on edamame.
Start your day with oats. Steel cut oats or rolled oats make a filling breakfast. For an added punch include cinnamon
Snack on nuts and seeds such as almonds and sesame seeds. You can also add these to your morning oatmeal.
Order or prepare sandwiches on whole grain wheat bread.
Beyond calcium: Other nutrients for healthy bones
When it comes to healthy bones and preventing osteoporosis, calcium alone is not enough. There are a number of other vital nutrients that help your body absorb and make use of the calcium you consume.
Why it’s important: Magnesium helps your body absorb and retain calcium to help build and strengthen bones and prevent osteoporosis. Since your body is not good at storing magnesium, it is vital to make sure you get enough of it in your diet.
How much do you need? For adult men, 400-420 mg daily. For adult women, 310-320 mg daily (more during pregnancy).
How to include more in your diet: Magnesium is found in nuts (especially almonds and cashews), seeds (pumpkin, sesame, flax, sunflower), whole grains, seafood, legumes, tofu, and many vegetables, including spinach, Swiss chard, summer squash, turnip and mustard greens, broccoli, sea vegetables, cucumbers, and celery. Reduce sugar and alcohol, which increase the excretion of magnesium.
Why it’s important: Vitamin D helps the body absorb calcium and regulates calcium in the blood.
How much do you need? Up to age 70, 600 IU (international units) per day. Over 70, 800 IU per day.
How to include more in your diet: Your body synthesizes vitamin D when exposed to the sun. Spend at least 15 minutes outside in the sun each day and include good food sources of vitamin D in your diet, such as fortified milk, eggs, cheese, fortified cereal, butter, cream, fish, shrimp, and oysters.
Why it’s important: Phosphorous works with calcium to build bones. But again, it’s important to get the balance right: too much phosphorous will cause your body to absorb less calcium and can even be toxic.
How much do you need? For adults, 700 mg a day.
Why it’s important: Vitamin K helps the body regulate calcium and form strong bones.
How much do you need? Adult men, 120 micrograms daily. Adult women, 90 micrograms daily.
How to include more in your diet: You should be able to meet the daily recommendation for vitamin K by simply eating one or more servings per day of broccoli, Brussels sprouts, dark green lettuce, collard greens, or kale.
Vitamin C and vitamin B12
New research suggests that vitamin C and vitamin B12 may also play important roles in bone health and the prevention of osteoporosis.
Consuming foods rich in vitamin C may help to prevent bone loss. Good sources include citrus fruit, such as oranges and grapefruit, strawberries, kiwi, mango, Brussels sprouts, and green bell peppers.
Studies have also found a link between vitamin B12 levels and bone density and osteoporosis. Good sources of B12 include seafood such as salmon, haddock, and canned tuna, as well as milk, yogurt, eggs, and cottage cheese.
Other tips for building strong bones and preventing osteoporosis
In addition to adding calcium-rich foods to your diet, you can also minimize the amount of calcium you lose by reducing your intake of foods and other substances that deplete your body’s calcium stores.
Salt – Eating too much salt can contribute to calcium loss and bone breakdown. Reduce packaged and convenience foods, fast foods, and processed meats which are often high in sodium. Instead of salt, try using herbs and spices to enhance the taste of food.
Caffeine – Drinking more than 2 cups of coffee a day can lead to calcium loss. The amount lost can have a significant impact on older people with already low calcium levels. You can buffer the effects to an extent by drinking coffee with milk.
Alcohol – Alcohol inhibits calcium absorption and disrupts your body’s calcium balance in a number of ways. Try to keep your alcohol consumption to no more than 7 drinks per week.
Soft drinks – In order to balance the phosphates in soft drinks, your body draws calcium from your bones, which is then excreted. Opt for water or calcium-fortified orange juice instead.
For lifelong bone health, exercise is key
When it comes to building and maintaining strong bones, exercise is essential, especially weight-bearing activities such as walking, dancing, jogging, weightlifting, stair climbing, racquet sports, and hiking. Find something that you enjoy doing and make it a regular activity.
Calcium supplements: What you need to know
While food is the best source of calcium, making up any shortfall in your diet with supplements is another option. But it’s important not to take too much.
Calcium citrate is a highly absorbable calcium compound.
Calcium ascorbate and
calcium carbonate are not as easily absorbed as calcium citrate.
Be smart about calcium supplements
Don’t take more than 500 mg at a time. Your body can only absorb a limited amount of calcium at one time, so it is best to consume calcium in small doses throughout the day.
Don’t take more than the recommended amount for your age group. Take into account the amount of calcium you get from food. And remember: more isn’t better; it may damage the heart and have other negative health effects.
Take your calcium supplement with food. All supplemental forms of calcium are best absorbed when taken with food. If it’s not possible to take your supplement with food, choose calcium citrate.
Purity is important. It’s best to choose calcium supplements with labels that state “purified” or, if you’re in the U.S., have the USP (United States Pharmacopeia) symbol. Avoid supplements made from unrefined oyster shell, bone meal, or dolomite that don’t have the USP symbol because they may contain high levels of lead or other toxic metals.
Be aware of side effects. Some people do not tolerate calcium supplements as well as others and experience side effects such as acid rebound, gas, and constipation. For acid rebound, switch from calcium carbonate to calcium citrate. For gas or constipation, try increasing your intake of fluids and high-fiber foods.
Check for possible drug interactions. Calcium, magnesium, and vitamin K supplements can interfere with other medications and vitamins you’re taking, including heart medicine, certain diuretics, antacids, blood thinners, and some cancer drugs. Talk with your doctor or pharmacist about possible interactions. Any medications that you take on an empty stomach should NOT be taken with calcium.
18 Surprising Dairy-Free Sources of Calcium
So you’re probably already familiar with the main calcium contenders: milk, yogurt, and cheese. But dairy shouldn’t be the only dietary pit stop to fill up on this nutrient (whether you’re lactose-intolerant or just cutting out dairy for a while). Leafy greens, seafood, legumes, and fruit also contain calcium and many foods and drinks are fortified with the mineral. But before we dive into those, let’s get back to basics.
What Does Calcium Do?
It’s no secret that calcium is vital for strong bones and teeth, but it goes beyond that. This mineral also helps the body maintain healthy blood vessels, regulate blood pressure, and even prevent insulin resistance (which could lead to Type 2 diabetes). Adults should consume about 1,000 mg of calcium per day (which translates to about one glass of skim milk, one thick slice of cheddar cheese, and one cup of plain yogurt), yet most Americans still fail to meet the mark. According to one survey, only 16 percent of females ages 20 to 29 get enough calcium.
Which is where this list of surprising calcium-rich foods comes in! Just remember to try and pair nondairy sources of calcium with vitamin D: The body needs vitamin D to help absorb calcium!
Here’s a list of foods and beverages rich in calcium (no cows required), along with recipes to help make them an everyday occurrence in a variety of meals.
Since most Americans aren’t getting enough nutrients from natural foods alone, they often rely on enriched foods and supplements. Sail down the grocery aisle and stock up on these items, au natural!
1. White Beans
191 mg (19% DV) in 1 cup canned
Creamy and light, these legumes are a great source of calcium and iron. Add them to a pasta dish with veggies or skip the chickpeas and make your own hummus with white beans.
2. Canned Salmon
232 mg (23% DV) in ½ can with bones (which provides the calcium!)
To avoid putting a dent in the wallet, canned salmon is a great way to go. Here’s the catch: It’s the bones in canned salmon that hold all the calcium, so they need to be mashed up right along with the salmon meat for all the benefits! But don’t get turned off just yet—the canning process softens the bones so they easily break apart and are unnoticeable when mixed in with the rest of the can’s contents. For a boost of calcium and omega 3’s, try these salmon cakes.
321 mg (32% DV) in about 7 sardines fillets
There’s nothing fishy about sardines—they are one of the healthiest fish to munch on! Along with calcium, they also provide a hefty dose of omega 3s and vitamin D. Try adding them to a Greek salad or eat ’em straight out of the can.
12 Foods That Have Surprisingly High Protein
High-Fiber Foods: The 16 Best (and Most Surprising) Foods
Complete Proteins Vegetarians Need to Know About
4. Dried Figs
107 mg (10% DV) in 8 whole dried figs
For a sweet treat, this dried fruit packs an antioxidant, fiber, and calcium punch. Eat them as a midday snack or turn these delicious dried fruits into a creamy jam.
5. Bok Choy
74 mg (7% DV) in 1 cup
This versatile Chinese cabbage provides a hefty dose of vitamins A and C, along with calcium and fiber. Stir-fry bok choy with garlic and olive oil for a perfect side dish.
6. Blackstrap Molasses
172 mg (17% DV) in 1 tablespoon
When your sweet tooth strikes, it’s best to go natural. Blackstrap molasses is darker in color and richer in flavor than regular molasses, and is filled with calcium, iron, and other vitamins. Plus, it’s a great sweet and flavorful addition to many dishes. Drizzle some on pancakes or use it to make brown sugar.
188 mg (19% DV) in 2 cups raw (chopped)
This superfood is filled with calcium and antioxidants and is perfect to use as the base of any salad when shredded into thin strips. Not in the mood for a raw bowl of greens? Try one of these crazy-good kale recipes that aren’t salad.
8. Black-Eyed Peas
185 mg (18% DV) in 1/2 cup canned
These beans are filled with calcium, potassium, folate, and more! Skip the fat-filled mayo and whip up this black-eyed pea spread to pump up any sandwich or appetizer.
72 mg (7% DV) in ¼ cup dry roasted (about 20 nuts)
You’re “nuts” if you don’t grab a handful of almonds every now and then! They’re the most nutritionally dense nut, packing a crazy amount of nutrients per calorie and ounce. Aside from calcium, they also contain potassium, vitamin E, and iron. Sprinkle on a salad, make your own almond butter, or whip up one of these nine almond butter snacks for a healthy pick-me-up. Just watch out for portion size!
65 mg (6% DV) in 1 medium fruit
Full of vitamin C and calcium, enjoy this fruit as a mid-morning snack, or use its citrus flavor to brighten up any dish, like these honey orange carrots. We’re big fans of an orange smoothie in winter, actually.
11. Turnip Greens
197 mg (20% DV) in 1 cup cooked (chopped)
This leafy green comes from turnip bulbs, and is filled with calcium, antioxidants, and folate, which could help improve mood. Sautee them as a side dish or spice things up and make a turnip tart.
12. Sesame Seeds
88 mg (9% DV) in 1 tablespoon
These unassuming seeds are more than just a hamburger bun decoration. Sesame seeds can help lower blood pressure, reduce inflammation, and may even fight against certain cancers. Use their nutty crunch in a salad or add to this sautéed spinach dish.
126 mg (13% DV) in about 1 cup raw
Fish aren’t the only, well, fish in the sea. Seaweed is full of calcium, fiber, and iodine, which helps with proper thyroid function. Kick a bowl of risotto up a notch with this seaweed recipe. Feel like keeping it classic? Try your hand at a classic miso soup.
Fortified With Calcium
Fortifying foods with calcium has become a popular way to help people consume a balanced diet, but some studies do suggest eating foods with naturally occurring nutrients is the better route to take. So just make sure you’re not only reaching for the fortified kinds!
14. Instant Oatmeal
187 mg (19% DV) in 1 cup
Many cereals and grains are now fortified, including our favorite morning breakfast. And while the instant kind doesn’t boast the same benefits as old-fashioned rolled oats, they’re a quick breakfast option that’s full of fiber and calcium. Just choose the kinds without added sugar.
15. Orange Juice
500 mg (50% DV) in 1 cup
In moderation, fruit juice is a perfect pairing for morning pancakes or eggs! Enjoy a tall glass for calcium and vitamin C, or pour over a salmon fillet.
16. Soy Milk
300 mg (30% DV) in 1 cup
Cow’s milk not your cup of tea? Soy milk is a great option for people who are lactose intolerant, and it contains more protein than regular milk. Pour in a morning bowl of cereal or add to coffee with some cinnamon.
17. Firm Tofu
861 mg (86% DV) in ½ cup
We know what you’re thinking: What exactly is tofu? This meaty textured vegetarian alternative is actually made of dried soybeans that have been grounded up and boiled. It’s a great way to add lots of protein, little fat, and (of course) calcium to any meal! What’s on the dinner table tonight? Try this caramelized tofu.
114 mg (14% DV) in 1 cup
They’re touted for helping lower cholesterol, but Cheerios also pack a significant amount of calcium into our cereal bowl. Enjoy with skim or soy milk and sliced strawberries, or in homemade trail mix for extra crunch.
Calcium-rich foods that vegans can eat
The following foods are rich in calcium and contain no animal-based products.
1. Chia seeds
Share on PinterestChia seeds and soy milk are plant-based sources of calcium.
A single ounce, or 2 tablespoons, of chia seeds provide 179 mg of calcium.
Chia also contains boron, which promotes the health of bones and muscles by helping the body to metabolize calcium, phosphorous, and magnesium.
Add chia seeds to smoothies or mix them into oatmeal or yogurt for a little added crunch.
2. Soy milk
One cup of fortified soy milk contains about the same amount of calcium as the equivalent of cow’s milk. It is important to choose a product that is fortified with calcium carbonate.
Soy milk is also rich in vitamin D, and it contains less saturated fat than whole milk with lactose.
Just 1 cup of whole almonds contains 385 mg of calcium, which is more than one-third of the recommended daily amount.
However, the same serving also contains 838 calories and almost 72 grams of fat.
While the fat is mostly healthful and monounsaturated, the calorie count is high, and a person should limit their intake to smaller portions of a quarter cup per serving, for example.
4. Dried figs
About eight figs, or 1 cup, provides 241 mg of calcium.
Figs make a great sweet treat and are rich in fiber and antioxidants. Try them as a midday snack or crush them into a creamy jam.
Tofu tends to be an excellent source of calcium. However, the calcium content varies, depending on the firmness and the brand, and it can range from 275–861 mg per half cup.
To receive the benefits of the calcium, read labeling carefully and only select tofu that contains calcium salt, which manufacturers use as a coagulant.
6. White beans
One cup of white beans yields 161 mg of calcium.
White beans are a low-fat food and are also rich in iron. Add them to a favorite soup or salad, eat them in a side dish, or use them in hummus.
7. Sunflower seeds
Share on PinterestSunflower seeds have a high vitamin and mineral content.
A single cup of sunflower seed kernels contains 109 mg of calcium.
These seeds are also rich in magnesium, which balances the effects of calcium in the body and regulates nerve and muscle health.
In addition, sunflower seed kernels contain vitamin E and copper.
Together, these nutrients can promote bone strength and flexibility and prevent bone loss.
However, sunflower seeds can contain high amounts of added salt, which depletes the body’s levels of calcium. For optimal health benefits, choose raw, unsalted seeds.
Also, consider a single serving to be about one handful of kernels, to avoid excessive calorie intake.
8. Broccoli rabe
Broccoli’s bitter cousin, broccoli rabe, contains 100 mg of calcium per cup.
Many recipes aim to tone down and complement the intense flavor of this hearty vegetable.
One cup of frozen, prepared edamame contains 98 mg of calcium.
Available fresh or frozen and shelled or in pods, edamame contain high-quality proteins and all nine essential amino acids.
Just 2 cups of raw chopped kale provide about 180 mg of calcium.
Kale belongs to the cruciferous family of vegetables, which also includes broccoli. The leafy green is loaded with antioxidants, which can prevent or delay cell damage. Kale is also low in calories, with every 100 grams containing only 35 calories.
Add chopped kale to a salad or sauté or steam the vegetable as a side dish.
11. Sesame seeds
Eating just 1 tablespoon of sesame seeds adds 88 mg of calcium to a person’s diet. Try toasting them and sprinkling the seeds over a salad or baking them in bread for a nuttier flavor.
Sesame seeds also contain zinc and copper, and both are beneficial to bone health. Results of a study from 2013 suggest that supplementation with sesame seeds helped to relieve some symptoms of knee osteoarthritis.
One cup of frozen broccoli has 87 mg of calcium.
A diet rich in broccoli and other members of the cruciferous family may be linked with a reduced risk of cancer, according to the National Cancer Institute in the U.S.
Research in rodents suggests that compounds in broccoli can help to prevent bladder, breast, colon, liver, and stomach cancers. However, studies in humans have produced inconclusive results.
13. Sweet potatoes
Share on PinterestSweet potatoes are easy to include in a range of dishes.
One large sweet potato contains 68 mg of calcium. These vegetables are also rich in potassium and vitamins A and C.
Vitamin A is an important antioxidant that may promote good eyesight, resistance to the effects of aging, and cancer prevention.
Sweet potatoes are naturally low in fat and calories. They are popular as a side dish in some parts of the world.
14. Mustard and collard greens
Raw collard greens contain 84 mg of calcium per cup, and they are rich in other vitamins and minerals.
Raw mustard greens are also a significant source of nutrients, and they contain 64 mg of calcium per cup.
A single cup of raw okra contains 82 mg of calcium. Okra is also a significant source of protein, fiber, iron, and zinc.
Many people enjoy the vegetable boiled, fried, pickled, or roasted.
16. Oranges and orange juice
One large orange contains 74 mg of calcium, while a single glass of calcium-fortified orange juice contains 300 mg
17. Butternut squash
Butternut squash contains 84 mg of calcium per cup.
The same serving also provides 31 mg of vitamin C, which is more than one-third of the recommended daily amount. The NIH recommend that men consume 90 mg and women consume 75 mg of the vitamin per day.
Butternut squash is also rich in vitamin A, and there are many versatile recipes.
Another cruciferous vegetable, arugula, contains 32 mg of calcium per cup.
This may not seem like an impressive figure, but arugula contains a lot of water, and it is low in calories, at 5 calories per cup.
A person may eat 3 or 4 cups per serving, boosting the overall calcium intake.
Arugula also contains high amounts of a compound called erucin, which may combat cancer.
Increasing Calcium in Your Diet
Why do I need calcium?
Calcium is a mineral that the body needs to build strong bones and teeth. Calcium allows blood to clot normally, muscles and nerves to function properly, and the heart to beat normally. Most of the calcium in your body is found inside your bones.
What if I do not consume enough calcium?
If you do not consume enough calcium, your body begins to take calcium from your bones, decreasing your bone mass and putting you at risk for osteoporosis. Inadequate calcium intake may also increase your risk for high blood pressure.
How much calcium should I consume?
The following guidelines will help ensure that you are consuming enough calcium:
1.) Try to meet these recommended amounts of calcium each day (Recommended Dietary Allowances):
* adequate intake
2.) Eating and drinking two to four servings of dairy products and calcium-rich foods a day will help ensure that you are getting enough calcium in your daily diet. Please refer to the table (below) for examples of food sources of calcium.
3.) The best sources of calcium are dairy products, including milk, yogurt, cheese, and calcium-fortified beverages such as almond and soy milk. Calcium is also found in dark-green leafy vegetables, dried peas and beans, fish with bones, and calcium-fortified juices and cereals.
4.) Vitamin D will help your body use calcium. Some of your daily vitamin D can be obtained through regular exposure to the sun. Vitamin D is also found in fatty fish such as salmon, tuna, and swordfish. Beef liver, cheese, mushrooms, and egg yolks also provide small amounts. Most milk is fortified with vitamin D; however, foods made from milk, like cheese and ice cream, are usually not fortified. Vitamin D is added to many breakfast cereals and to some brands of orange juice, yogurt, margarine, and milk alternatives; check the labels.
Reading food labels:
The amount of calcium in a product is listed as the percent of daily needs based on 1000 milligrams (mg) of calcium per day. To calculate the milligrams of calcium, just add a zero to the percent of calcium on the label. For example, if 1 cup of milk contains 30% of calcium needs, then it contains 300 milligrams of calcium (See food label below).
How can I get enough calcium if I am lactose-intolerant?
Lactose intolerance is the inability to digest lactose, the sugar found in milk. It causes cramping, gas, or diarrhea when dairy products are consumed. Lactose intolerance occurs because of the body’s lack of lactase, an enzyme needed to digest lactose.
Here are some suggestions to help you meet your calcium needs if you are lactose-intolerant:
- Try consuming lactose -free milk such as Lactaid®, or calcium-fortified soy, almond, or rice milk.
- You may be able to tolerate certain dairy products that contain less milk sugar, such as yogurt and cheese. Try lactose-free or low lactose cheese or cottage cheese or lactose-free yogurt.
- Talk to your dietitian about other lactose-reduced products.
- Eat non-dairy foods that are good sources of calcium, such as broccoli, dried peas and beans, kale, collard, dark green leafy vegetables, canned salmon with soft bones, sardines, calcium-enriched fruit juice, blackstrap molasses, almonds, and tofu processed with calcium.
Should I take a calcium supplement?
If you are having trouble consuming enough calcium-rich foods in your daily meal plan, talk to your physician and dietitian for suggestions.
The amount of calcium you will need from a supplement depends on how much calcium you are eating from food. Calcium supplements and some antacids containing calcium may help you meet your calcium needs. Many multi- vitamin supplements contain a limited amount of calcium. Protein powders contain variable amounts of calcium.
Factors that optimize calcium absorption:
- Limit calcium supplements to 600 mg elemental calcium maximum at a time. Review the Nutrition Facts label, and review the serving size and amount of calcium that is provided for that serving size.
- One calcium carbonate supplement typically provides 500-600 mg elemental calcium.
- One calcium citrate supplement typically provides 200-300 mg elemental calcium.
- Calcium carbonate is best absorbed when taken with food.
- Calcium citrate is best absorbed with or without food.
- Avoid taking calcium and iron supplements at the same time.
Sources of calcium
Vegetables and fruit
Nuts, Seeds, Misc.
|Food (serving size)||Calcium (mg)|
|Almonds, whole, 1/4 cup||100|
|Sesame seeds, whole dried, 1 Tbsp.||88|
|Molasses, blackstrap, 1 Tbsp.||65|
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14 Calcium Rich Vegetables
Vegetables are a surprisingly good source of calcium.
“But where do you get your calcium?”
If you’re dairy free, I’m sure you’ve heard this question. Whether from friends, family, or a stranger in the checkout line, it’s usually spoken in a scandalized tone by someone who’s clearly agog that you don’t drink milk.
I confess, the question makes me a little crazy. Because—logically speaking—why would adult humans need to drink baby-cow growth formula just to get enough calcium?
Yet I understand why people are shocked. We’re taught from day one that milk is the source of calcium in anyone’s diet. Without milk, your bones are pretty much destined to dissolve as you age, right?
I don’t know about you, but that’s the message I got.
However, when you dig into the science, an entirely different picture emerges: Multiple studies have found that drinking milk doesn’t prevent fractures at all.1,2 One study even found that drinking lots of milk increased hip fracture risk in older women.3 Ironically, taking calcium supplements is also linked to broken bones4. In fact, it looks like getting enough, but not too much calcium, is the way to go.
So, what decreases fracture risk? Fruits and veggies.5 This may be because many fruits and vegetables contain not only calcium, but magnesium, potassium, and vitamin C, which are essential to strong bones. (Vitamin D also helps prevent broken bones; you can get it from sun, supplements, and fortified foods.)
So I’ve settled on an answer to the checkout lady’s calcium question. I simply say:
I get my calcium from the same place cows do: Plants!
Food for thought. 🍅
How much calcium do you really need?
Surprisingly, not that much. According to the U.S. government, women ages 19-50 need 1000 mg of calcium per day. And that estimate may be high; the U.K.’s National Health Service states that adults need only 700 mg per day.
Since I’m in the States, I’ll list the current U.S. calcium recommendations for adults. (Guidance for kids here.) But if you’re in the U.K., apparently you’re off the hook. 😉
Recommended Daily Allowances (National Institutes of Health)
Luckily, just a few of servings of calcium-rich veggies can help you get the calcium you need while powering you up with a host of health-boosting nutrients. So grab your cutting board and a good, sharp knife. Let’s dig into some calcium-rich veggies!
Note: Most calcium values that follow are per 1 cup cooked vegetable. See note in italics at the end of each vegetable entry for further details. All data from the USDA’s National Nutrient Database.
1. Collard greens: 357 mg calcium
This southern staple is a calcium powerhouse! Try Superfast Hoisin Collard Greens for a quick and easy way to enjoy. (357 mg per 1 cup boiled and drained collard greens, cooked from frozen.)
2. Edamame: 261 mg calcium
Image credit: United Soybean Board via Flickr Creative Commons
That tasty sushi-restaurant appetizer? It contains over a quarter of your daily calcium and nearly 22 grams of protein, nearly the same amount of protein as 4 eggs! (261 mg per 1 cup boiled and drained green soybeans)
3. Turnip greens: 249 mg calcium
Image credit: BigOakImages via Flickr
Possibly the tastiest part of the turnip, the greens are a great source of calcium. (249 mg per 1 cup boiled and drained turnip greens, cooked from frozen)
4. Nopales: 244 mg calcium
Meal Makeover Moms via Flickr
If nopales, or cactus paddles, are new to you, you’re not alone. But given how rich they are in calcium, they’re at the top of my to-try list. I’ll be starting with this scrumptious-looking Raw Papaya-Nopal Salad from Gastrawnomica. (244 mg per 1 cup cooked nopales)
5. Kale: 179 mg calcium
Kale is still cool, right? 😎 Well, when it comes to calcium, it certainly is. Think you don’t like kale? Try it in this absurdly addictive (and easy) Kale and Mango Salad with Creamy Ginger Dressing. You may just have a change of heart. (179 mg per 1 cup of boiled and drained kale; 137 mg per cup of raw chopped Scotch kale)
6. Mustard greens: 165 mg calcium
Mustard greens image credit: Amy Ross via Flickr
Slow-cooking brings out the best in calcium-rich mustard greens. I highly recommend these Vegetarian Mustard Greens from Budget Bytes. They’re tender and tasty for only $0.70 per serving. (165 mg per 1 cup of chopped, boiled, drained mustard greens)
7. Baby bok choy: 158 mg calcium
Erik Forsberg via Flickr
Also known as pak choi, baby bok choy is delicious braised, stir fried, or sliced into ribbons for salad. You can also try chopping up raw bok choy and tossing it with with grated carrots, hot brown rice or quinoa, ground flax seed, and a sprinkle of soy sauce. Easy and delicious! (158 mg per 1 cup of shredded, boiled, drained baby bok choy)
8. Dandelion greens: 147 mg calcium
Jessica and Lon Binder via Flickr
While they’re wildly nutritious, dandelion greens can be seriously bitter. To mellow them out, blanche them in boiling water for 1 minute, then drain and rinse with cool water. Then proceed with sauteing and stir frying. (147 mg per 1 cup of chopped, boiled, drained dandelion greens)
9. Snow peas: 150 mg calcium
Su-Lin via Flickr
Delicious in stir-fries, snow peas—along with their cousins sugar snap peas—are a welcome addition to any veggie tray or lunch box. (150 mg per 1 cup of boiled & drained snow peas)
10. Broccoli rabe: 100 mg calcium
Miriam via Flickr
Pronounced “broccoli rob,” this is another vegetable I’ve never actually eaten. (In fact, I had to look up the pronunciation!) That said, I’m eager to give it a whirl in this yummy-looking potato and broccoli rabe casserole from FatFreeVegan.com. (100 mg per 1 NLEA serving of cooked broccoli rabe—about 4 stalks)
11. Acorn squash: 90 mg calcium
Calcium-rich acorn squash is the ultimate stuffing veggie. For an easy, tasty dinner, roast seeded acorn squash halves upside down on parchment paper or a Silpat at 375 for 45 minutes. Once tender and lightly browned, turn the halves over and fill with chili, stew, or sauteed veggies and beans. Voila: A simple, satisfying supper—with a hearty helping of calcium. (90 mg per 1 cup baked squash cubes)
12. Sweet potatoes: 89 mg calcium
Sweet potatoes: my favorite veggie! You can easily enjoy them sliced into fries, which you can microwave with a little water or roast at 425F for 20 minutes. Of course, I proceed to dip my fries in an absurd amount of ketchup, but that’s optional. 😉 I also love baked sweet potatoes smashed open and smothered with copycat vegan Hidden Vallen ranch dressing. Yum! (89 mg per 1 cup boiled and mashed sweet potato, without skin)
13. Stewed tomatoes: 87 mg calcium
If you’re a chili fan, you’re in luck: Stewed tomatoes have a nice dose of calcium. Not a chili fan? Try Peanut-Sweet Potato Stew. You’ll get an added calcium boost from the sweet potatoes. (87 mg per 1 cup canned, stewed tomatoes)
14. Butternut squash: 84 mg calcium
Who knew sweet, creamy butternut squash was a calcium king? You’ll love it in this meatless Stuffed Butternut Squash recipe from Rock My Vegan Socks, pictured above. (84 mg per 1 cup baked squash cubes)
Where’s the spinach?
I can hear the nutrition buffs now: But spinach has lots of calcium! Where is it?
You’re right, spinach does have loads of calcium. But it also has lots of oxalate, which blocks your body from absorbing calcium. And that means most of the calcium from spinach ends up in your 💩. (Oh yes she did.)
So while spinach is nutritious for about a thousand other reasons, calcium isn’t one of them.
Where will you get your calcium?
Dark leafy greens like collards sauteed with garlic and onions? Or maybe scrumptious butternut squash roasted until tender with cumin? Whatever you decide, your bones—and the rest of your body—will thank you.
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- Are you dairy free: What was your #1 reason for giving up milk?
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You hear that calcium is essential to strong bones. And that the best source of calcium is dairy products. But is that the whole story? How should you get the calcium you need? And what are some of the most healthy, calcium-rich foods? Read on to see what the science says so you can make the best decisions for your health.
As a teenager, I remember seeing TV commercials featuring celebrities and athletes proudly wearing milk mustaches, gazing into the camera, and asking, “Got Milk?”
As the grandson of the co-founder of the Baskin-Robbins ice cream chain, that question had a particular resonance for me. And as the son of John Robbins, who walked away from an opportunity to helm that chain for ethical reasons, I knew the answer that fit for me.
“Yessir! I got almond milk!”
The Got Milk? campaign, which ran from 1993 to 2014, made an effective and lasting impression on consumers. And it’s one reason why so many consumers, even today, strongly associate calcium with milk and dairy products.
But is this message valid? Are milk and dairy products really the best places to get calcium? Are other calcium-rich foods better for you? And is calcium as important as we’ve been told it is?
What’s the Role of Calcium for Your Health?
Calcium is the fifth most abundant element in the earth’s crust. It’s just about everywhere in the form of rocks and minerals. And it makes its way into plants and then into the animals who eat plants.
Calcium is an essential mineral for human health. It’s primarily stored in your bones and teeth. (And it’s what makes your pearly whites so strong).
More calcium exists in your body than any other mineral. That works out well because you need calcium to perform some essential functions.
- Carry messages between your brain and the rest of your body;
- Your nerves and muscles to move;
- Transport enzymes and hormones through your blood to where they need to go;
- Keep your muscles, nerves, and blood vessels functioning well; and
- Play a vital role in maintaining healthy blood pressure.
Calcium also enables the most critical muscle in your body — your heart — to receive signals and contract. Without calcium, your heart wouldn’t work!
How Much Calcium Do You Need?
According to the U.S. FDA, the Recommended Dietary Allowance for adults 18 years and older is 1,000 to 1,200 mg of calcium per day.
The FDA says that your calcium needs increase to 1,300 mg per day during teenage years, pregnancy, and lactation. And that postmenopausal women may also need to increase their calcium intake.
But these numbers may be high. The National Health Service of Britain recommends considerably less calcium per day — only 700 mg.
So how much calcium you need apparently depends on which side of the pond you stand! (Or maybe, just possibly, it could also depend on how much food industry lobbyists influence your government bureaucrats.)
Calcium Myths and Controversies You Need to Know
Calcium may be one of the most talked-about nutrients. But that doesn’t mean everything you hear is necessarily true.
Especially when information is coming from trade organizations, food companies, or manipulated governments. (See more about the dairy industry’s whitewashing in our article here.)
Here are some of the most widespread myths about calcium:
Myth #1 — Dairy Products Are the Best Sources of Calcium
Dairy is high in calcium. But contrary to popular belief, high dairy consumption doesn’t correlate with better bone health.
In fact, osteoporosis and bone fractures are most common in the United States, Finland, Sweden, and the United Kingdom — the countries where people consume the most dairy products.
Eating a lot of dairy products can also increase your risk for certain cancers, such as prostate, breast, lung, and ovarian. This may be due to sex hormones like estrogen and other growth factors naturally present in milk.
Dairy products deliver a lot more than just calcium. They come with animal proteins, lactose, hormones, contaminants, and even antibiotics.
Of course, there are other downsides to the industrialized dairy industry, like that it’s cruel to animals and damaging to the planet. (For more concerns about dairy, check out this article.)
Myth #2 — Getting Enough Calcium Is the Most Important Thing You Can Do for Bone Health
Calcium is important for bone health. But calcium isn’t the only thing your bones need to be strong.
Vitamin D — which you make with the help of the sun — is also essential.
People in countries like India, Peru, and Japan, eat around one-third the amount of calcium that Americans do, yet in these countries, bone fractures are rare. They have much higher exposure to sunlight due to geographic location, which naturally increases their vitamin D levels.
You can get the vitamin D you need with just about 15 minutes per day in the sun. Taking a vitamin D-containing supplement can also be beneficial.
Being active as you age is also highly recommended, and has been proven to help prevent fracture. Exercises to focus on for bone health especially include weight-bearing activities, such as walking, running, tennis, dancing, stair-climbing, and weight-lifting.
Myth #3 — Everyone Should Take a Calcium-Containing Supplement, Just to be Safe
I’ve known many people who take calcium supplements fervently in an attempt to keep their bones strong as they age. Around 43% of Americans take a calcium-containing supplement, including 70% of older women.
But is this helpful?
Research suggests that for many people, calcium supplements may do more harm than good.
The risks of calcium supplementation are especially significant for people with a history of kidney stones.
And this isn’t a new finding. A large epidemiological study published in the New England Journal of Medicine in 1997 looked at calcium intake and kidney stone incidence among almost 92,000 women between the ages of 34 to 59.
The women, who had never had a kidney stone at the outset of the study, were followed with questionnaires from 1980 to 1992. The researchers found that those women with higher dietary calcium intakes had reduced risk for kidney stones, while those who took calcium supplements increased their risk for kidney stones by 20%.
The 2011 Women’s Health Initiative randomized clinical trial observed kidney stone incidence among 36,282 postmenopausal women. Half were given calcium plus vitamin D daily, and half were given a placebo.
Those on calcium and vitamin D daily for seven years had a 17% increase in kidney stone incidence. This is thought to be because high doses of supplemental calcium make your body excrete more calcium in your urine, promoting kidney stone formation.
Calcium Supplements May Also Increase the Risk for Cardiovascular Disease
A study published in BMJ in 2008 followed 1,471 healthy postmenopausal women in New Zealand over five years, looking for adverse cardiovascular outcomes. Half of the women were given a placebo, while the other half were given calcium supplementation.
Those who took calcium supplements experienced more heart attacks, strokes, and other unwelcome cardiac events.
Calcium supplements may increase blood calcium, which can cause stiff arteries and increase blood pressure. Both of these contribute to the development of heart disease.
Calcium supplements can also prevent certain medications from working, as well. Specifically, they can reduce the absorption of certain antibiotics, anticonvulsants, and even, ironically enough, medications used to treat osteoporosis.
So if dairy products aren’t the best source of calcium, and if calcium supplementation comes with considerable drawbacks, the question is: Where should you get your calcium?
You might want to look at where cows get their calcium from: Plants.
9 Plant-Based, Calcium-Rich Foods
Below are some of the most naturally calcium-rich plant foods:
Plant-Based, Calcium-Rich Foods #1 — Seeds
- ½ cup sesame seeds = 350 mg calcium
- 1 ounce chia seeds = 180 mg calcium
I love to keep a variety of nuts and seeds in the pantry. I sprinkle sesame seeds on a salad or roasted veggies. Chia seeds are great in smoothies, oatmeal, or ground and sprinkled on just about everything.
If you prefer a spread, tahini (sesame seed butter) offers 130 mg of calcium in just 2 tablespoons. That’s about 10% of what your body will need in the United States and 20% of what it’ll need in Britain. (If you trust official government recommendations, that is!)
Plant-Based, Calcium-Rich Foods #2 — Beans
- ½ cup navy beans or baked beans = 60 mg calcium
- ½ cup kidney beans = 75 mg calcium
- ½ cup black beans = 160 mg calcium
Plant-Based, Calcium-Rich Foods #3 — Lentils
- 1 cup lentils = 80 mg calcium
Lentils are inexpensive and shelf stable. Try red lentils in soups like dahl, green lentils in salads, or brown lentils to make a lentil loaf.
Plant-Based, Calcium-Rich Foods #4 — Almonds
- ½ cup raw almonds = 80 mg calcium
- 2 Tbsp almond butter = 80 mg calcium
Almond butter is a great alternative to peanut butter, and it’s easy to make with a high-speed blender or food processor. Raw almonds are easy to add to smoothies, muffins, and pancakes, or just eaten alone.
Plant-Based, Calcium-Rich Foods #5 — Low-Oxalate Leafy Greens
- ½ cup of collard greens = 300 mg calcium
- 1 cup bok choy = 60 mg calcium
- 1 cup chopped kale = 80 mg calcium
Oxalates are compounds found in certain leafy greens that can block calcium absorption. Oxalates can make otherwise highly nutritious vegetables — like spinach, swiss chard, and beet greens — not-so-great sources of calcium.
Greens with lower oxalates include collard greens, bok choy, and kale. Mix these into salads or try them sauteed or steamed.
Plant-Based, Calcium-Rich Foods #6 — Soy
- 100 grams of tofu = 175 mg calcium
- 1 cup of Edensoy organic soy milk = 100 mg calcium
- ½ cup edamame = 60 mg calcium
Organic soy foods are great for many recipes. Use extra-firm tofu in stir-fries, pasta dishes, tofu scrambles, or even sliced on sandwiches. Try silken tofu in smoothies, dips, and sauces.
Edamame can be purchased in the frozen section of many markets, either still in pods or pre-shelled. Add edamame to salads, buddha bowls, or homemade hummus. You can drink soy milk plain, or use it in any other way you would regularly use cow’s milk — like in cereal or for baking.
Plant-Based, Calcium-Rich Foods #7 — Oranges
- 1 medium navel orange = 80 mg calcium
Oranges receive praise for their vitamin C content, but they’re also high in calcium. I can’t think of a better way to enjoy a juicy orange than by simply eating it raw.
Plant-Based, Calcium-Rich Foods #8 — Broccoli Raab (Rapini)
- 1 bunch cooked broccoli raab = 515 mg calcium
Broccoli is a decent source of calcium — coming in at around 40 mg per cup — but broccoli raab (also known as rapini) is even better. It can be boiled, sauteed, or seasoned and roasted.
Plant-Based, Calcium-Rich Foods #9 — Dried Figs
- 4 dried figs = 55 mg calcium
If you’re not a fan of eating dried figs plain, they’re great additions to baked goods, like muffins, breads, and scones. Some people even add them to smoothies.
What About Calcium-Fortified Plant Milks?
Most plant milks are fortified with calcium, though some aren’t. Fortified milks can contain as much — if not more — calcium than a glass of cow’s milk.
If you drink plant milk, check the label, as the calcium content can vary between varieties and brands.
Of course, fortification is really just a way of adding supplements to food. It may or may not be beneficial, but it’s certainly not the same as getting calcium from natural food sources.
Do Any Factors Affect Calcium Absorption?
If you’re one of the people who struggles with your calcium levels, it could be that the problem doesn’t stem from not consuming enough calcium. It may also be that you’re not absorbing it well.
Several things can interfere with how much calcium you absorb:
- Eating too much sodium. Salt can increase calcium loss. If this is a concern for you, avoid high sodium processed and packaged foods, rinse canned beans and vegetables (unless they are unsalted to begin with), and don’t add salt when cooking if you don’t need it. Many experts suggest that you keep your sodium intake to under 1,000 to 2,000 mg per day.
- Smoking and tobacco use. Habits like smoking and tobacco use can promote calcium loss, reduce bone density, and increase the risk of fractures. Other lifestyle factors common among smokers, such as inadequate physical activity, earlier menopause, poor diet, or alcohol use, can also contribute.
- Eating animal-derived protein. Eating a lot of animal protein can remove calcium from the bones and increase its excretion. This doesn’t seem to happen when you eat plant proteins, such as beans, lentils, or grains.
- Eating mainly animal-derived calcium. A study in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that calcium from leafy greens was absorbed at significantly higher rates than dairy. Calcium in Brussels sprouts was absorbed at 64%, and calcium in kale was absorbed at 50%, while calcium in cow’s milk was absorbed at a rate of only 32%.
- Not eating enough of other nutrients. For your body to absorb and use calcium properly, you need other nutrients, including vitamins D, C, K, E, magnesium, and boron.
- Getting your calcium only from oxalate-containing sources. Oxalates can inhibit calcium absorption, so oxalate-rich foods, such as spinach, rhubarb, beet greens, and swiss chard, shouldn’t be relied upon for their calcium content (though they do contain many other healthy nutrients!). Be sure to eat other calcium rich foods, like the ones listed above, to ensure you get what you need.
What Happens When You Don’t Get Enough Calcium?
Your body regulates its calcium levels through biological checks and balances. If your blood calcium is low, your body will remove calcium from your bones to make up for it. This means that if you’re truly calcium deficient, you may not have obvious symptoms for a while because your body is trying to manage it.
Osteoporosis affects over 10 million adults over the age of 50 in the United States. Worldwide, over 200 million people suffer from this disease. The majority of cases are in postmenopausal women and the elderly, who have an increased risk for fractures in their spine, hips, and wrists.
Other symptoms of more serious calcium deficiency include finger tingling and numbness, convulsions, and changes in heart rhythm that can be very dangerous.
Eating plant-based, calcium-rich foods are probably your best bet for avoiding calcium deficiency.
The Final Word on Calcium
It’s important to get enough calcium — for the health of your bones, and your heart, and to carry out many functions in your body.
So do your body a favor and enjoy the best plant-based sources of calcium. They’re abundant in other minerals and nutrients as well… not to mention, cruelty-free and better for the planet!
Tell Us in the Comments:
What are your favorite calcium-rich foods?
What special precautions do you take to avoid osteoporosis?
Featured Image: iStock.com/ratmaner
- What you need to know about plant-based protein
Eat These 7 Calcium-Rich Fruits To Ensure Healthy Bones And Teeth
Minerals play a crucial role in our body; one of the most important minerals is calcium. After all it is responsible for supporting the development of healthy teeth, bones, muscles and so much more. Moreover, it is also one of the most abundant minerals in the human body, which is essential for health. According to the Harvard University, the minimum daily calcium requirement is 1,000 milligrams a day for women below 50 years and 1,200 milligrams for women over 50 years. Your dietary choices help you load up on an optimal amount of calcium, which you need for basic functions. While you may know the usual diet that has calcium, which may include dairy products, there are fruits that come packed with calcium. We will enlist calcium-rich fruits that you can enjoy while reaping the maximum benefits from these delights, but first, what role does calcium play in our body.
What Role Does Calcium Play In Our Body?
Calcium performs numerous functions in our body. It uses more than 90 percent of the calcium to keep your bones and teeth strong, thereby, supporting skeletal function and structure. The rest of the calcium is utilised in blood clotting, muscle contraction, nerve function and cell signalling. The body cells use up calcium for various functions of the body. It also plays the key role in maintaining a regular heartbeat.
(Also Read: 6 Foods That Contain More Calcium Than A Glass Of Milk)
Calcium rich fruits: Calcium performs numerous functions in your body
What Happens To Your Body When You Are Calcium Deficient?
It is not only calcium deficiency that can affect your health; but also the deficiency of vitamin D, phosphorus and magnesium, all of which help in calcium absorption. Here are a few reasons as to why you can become calcium deficient.
- Old age
- Poor absorption of calcium in the body
- Inadequate consumption of calcium-rich foods
Symptoms of calcium deficiency
- Muscle cramps
- Dry skin
- Brittle nails
- Tooth decay
- Late puberty
- PMS symptoms
- Tooth decay
(Also Read: 7 Signs You Are Calcium Deficient)Calcium rich fruits: calcium deficiency may lead to insomnia
In most cases, you may also suffer from diseases like osteoporosis, cardiovascular disease and high blood pressure.
Here are some calcium-rich fruits that may help you load up on this mineral without really having to only depend on dairy products.
Out of the many calcium-rich fruits, apricots top the list. Include more apricots in your diet by adding them to your salads and breakfast cereals or just enjoy them as it is.
Not only are kiwis rich in vitamin C, but calcium content that is beneficial for the body. The tropical fruit is said to have about 60 milligrams of calcium. Make sure you eat the fruit or gulp down a glass of kiwi juice.
Calcium-rich fruits: Not only are kiwis rich in vitamin C, but calcium content that is beneficial for the body
Who wouldn’t like oranges? We often consume them without knowing how beneficial they are. Oranges are also one of the best sources of calcium after vitamin C.
Blackberries, strawberries and raspberries are a few fruits that are good sources of calcium. Toss them in your salads or eat them fresh. They are known to contain more than 20 milligrams of calcium each.
Calcium-rich fruits: Strawberries help keep the bad cholesterol at bay and are thus quite heart-friendly
Pineapples are great fruits; however, may not be recommended to diabetics. These juicy fruits are said to be loaded with calcium along with other vitamins and minerals.
Litchi may have the least amount of calcium, but when tossed with a fruit-bowl, it will only help add up to the mineral content.
Calcium-rich fruits: Litchi may have the least amount of calcium
Papaya contains a generous amount of calcium; it is said to have about 20 milligram per 100 grams of servings. Whether you eat it raw or cooked, it makes for a super healthy fruit.
The calcium-rich fruits not only promise you a load-up on calcium but also will ensure a healthy life. Most of these fruits are quite sweet; if you are a diabetic, make sure you consult a doctor.
10 calcium-rich foods for your bones
Our body needs calcium for healthy bones. Not only that, calcium is also very important for proper functioning of our nerves and muscles. Here are some high calcium foods you should definitely include in your diet!
1) MILK- 1 Cup: 280 mg of calcium
When we think about calcium, the first source that comes to our mind is milk. Easily digestible and absorbable, milk is one of the best high calcium foods. An amazing vehicle for building bones from childhood to adulthood, a cup of milk includes 280 mg of calcium of the recommended 1000 mg.
2) ORANGE – 1 Orange: 60 mg of calcium
We all know orange helps in boosting our immune system. And this magical fruit is also in the list of high calcium foods with vitamin D, which is crucial for absorption of calcium in the body. One medium size of orange contains 60 mg of calcium.
3) SARDINES – 1 Cup: 569 mg of calcium
Listed in the foods rich in calcium, Sardines are a great option. If you are a non-vegetarian,it is just what you need. These little salty fishes can add an amazing umami flavour to pastas and salads.
4) SOY MILK – 1 Cup Milk: 60 mg of calcium
It’s a myth that only dairy products contain calcium. Non-dairy products like fortified soy milk can be amazing high calcium foods and provide both calcium and vitamin D.
5) ALMONDS – 1 Cup(roasted): 457 mg of calcium
With a stupendous 457 mg of calcium, almonds top the list of high calcium foods. High on proteins as well, these nuts also helps in reducing the risk of heart disease. Also, almonds are an amazing source for improving your memory. Having some of these protein rich nuts every morning will be a sure win-win for your health.
6) BOK CHOY – 1 Cup: 74 mg of calcium
Every non-dairy calcium source list is incomplete without this leafy vegetable called Bok Choy. Also called as Chinese Cabbage, a cup of shredded bok choy provides 74 mg of calcium and just 9 calories. Loaded with vitamins like A and C, it is easy to cook and is available all round the year.
7) FIGS – 1 Cup(dried): 242 mg of calcium
Indulge in this sweet dessert-like fruit loaded with fibre and potassium. With a whopping 242 mg of calcium per 1 cup of dried fig, this sticky fruit helps in strengthening your bones. Also loaded with magnesium, this fruit helps in keeping the heart beat steady and maintaining muscle function. It stands a strong position in the list of foods rich in calcium.
8) YOGHURT – 1 Serving: 400 mg of calcium
Available in various flavours, yoghurt is a dairy product which contains healthy bacteria for your gut. With 400 mg of calcium in a single serving , this protein-rich diet is an amazing substitute to milk.
9) CHEESE – 1 Cup(diced): 951 mg of calcium
Another addition to the list of foods rich in calcium, cheese is a great source of protein as well as calcium. A must have ingredient for a variety of snacks, consumption of cheese is as easy as a pie.
10) GREEN LEAFY VEGETABLE – 1 Bunch: 336 mg of calcium
High in dietary fibre, green leafy vegetables are one of the high calcium foods. With a number of options like spinach, kale, celery and broccoli, these veggies are also rich in potassium and magnesium.
Calcium is an essential mineral for maintaining healthy bones – a factor in the development in numerous diseases such as osteoporosis, rheumatoid arthritis and others. And while you may think that you take in enough calcium throughout the day, or that you need to consume meat or dairy to take in enough calcium, this couldn’t be further from the truth.
Like vitamin B12, which is found in meat, calcium is another substance that is thought to be very difficult to find when only focusing on vegan food sources. But the good news for everyone – vegans, vegetarians, and meat eaters alike – is that there are numerous vegetables out there that contain notable amounts of calcium. What’s more, these vegetables provide a wealth of other health benefits while providing this essential mineral.
6 Vegetables High in Calcium
An excellent source of calcium, kale offers a whopping 139mg per 100g serving of the vegetable and offers very absorbable calcium. Kale also contains over 45 different flavonoids, offering ultra potent antioxidant benefits.
2. Collard Greens
Collard greens are a great choice and very high in calcium. A 1 cup serving offer 357mg (35% DV).
Along with vitamin C, vitamin K, vitamin A, folate, and dietary fiber, broccoli has about 74mg of calcium per cup.
Also rich in potassium and iodine, kelp contains about 136mg of calcium in a one cup serving.
This incredibly healthful green veggie contains about 56mg/cup. A 100g serving would equate to about 145mg of calcium. In addition, spinach also contains immune-boosting vitamin C, vitamin A, manganese, and a mega-serving of vitamin K. Populations all over the world rely on spinach for nutrition.
You can expect to find about 175mg of calcium within a cup of soybeans. Note: While soybeans can provide you with the calcium you’re looking for, this food is almost always genetically modified, presenting a danger to your health. If you are eating soybeans, make sure that this food especially is 100% organic.
While the above foods may be enough for any vegan, vegetarian, or even meat eater to take in enough daily calcium, this is hardly an exhaustive list. There are many other vegetables and even fruits that are a great source of calcium.
Do Calcium Supplements Work?
Supplementation is also a viable option, at least if you use the right type of supplement. Don’t bother with those chalky calcium supplements you can find at the gas station checkout. Because magnesium is essential for calcium absorption, always look for a calcium supplement with magnesium. I recommend IntraCal™. IntraCal puts calcium orotate and magnesium orotate together in an easily swallowed Kosher certified vegetarian capsule to make the most bioavailable calcium supplement on the market.
Do you have a favorite way to prepare one of these entries… or have a suggestion that’s not on the list? Leave a comment and let us know!
†Results may vary. Information and statements made are for education purposes and are not intended to replace the advice of your doctor. If you have a severe medical condition or health concern, see your physician.