10 Best calcium-rich foods for your daily diet

Calcium plays a crucial role in maintaining our health, yet it’s often overlooked in daily diets. This mineral is the cornerstone for strong bones and teeth, ensuring they stay robust and healthy as we age.

Beyond its bone-strengthening benefits, calcium is vital for muscle function, enabling our hearts to beat and muscles to contract, and it’s essential for nerve transmission, allowing messages to be sent throughout our body.

Ensuring you get enough calcium is more than just eating the right foods; it’s about making smart dietary choices that fit your lifestyle while keeping your body strong and healthy.

Let’s explore some of the best calcium-rich foods that you can easily add to your daily diet, ensuring you meet your nutritional needs with delicious and versatile options.

What food is highest in calcium?

Getting enough calcium is crucial for keeping your bones and teeth strong, but it doesn’t stop there [1].

This mineral is also essential for your muscles to function properly and for your nerves to carry messages between the brain and every part of your body.

Understanding the best sources of calcium can help you incorporate this vital nutrient into your daily diet.

1. Dairy products

Dairy foods like cheese, yogurt, and milk are traditional mainstays for obtaining your recommended daily intake of calcium.

These foods are not only a great supply of this necessary mineral, but they are also a great source of vitamin D, which improves the efficiency with which your body absorbs calcium.

  • Milk: Just one cup can offer about 300 mg of calcium, making it a simple yet effective choice for your daily needs.
  • Cheese: It’s not just tasty; it’s also calcium-dense. For example, an ounce of Parmesan can deliver roughly 330 mg of calcium.
  • Yogurt: A versatile option, one cup of plain yogurt can contain up to 450 mg of calcium, plus it’s good for your gut health.

Incorporating these into your diet can be effortless and delicious. Enjoy yogurt with fruit for breakfast, sprinkle cheese over your lunch salad, or have a glass of milk with your dinner.

dairy products

2. Leafy greens

Leafy greens like kale, collard greens, and spinach are not just for salads; they’re calcium powerhouses that can play a significant role in your bone health [2].

These vegetables are versatile and packed with nutrients, making them an excellent choice for anyone looking to boost their calcium intake with plant-based sources.

  • Kale: A cup of cooked kale provides roughly 177 mg of calcium, making it a top choice for your greens.
  • Collard greens: Similar to kale, a cup of this cooked vegetable offers about 268 mg of calcium.
  • Spinach: Although rich in calcium, with about 245 mg per cooked cup, it also contains oxalates, which can affect calcium absorption. Mixing up your greens can help maximize benefits.

Not only will you be giving your body a calcium boost, but you’ll also be enriching your diet with a variety of vitamins and minerals.

3. Fish with edible bones

Canary salmon and sardines, among other fish with edible bones, are excellent sources of calcium. Because of their edible bones, both choices are high in calcium and offer a good amount of omega-3 fatty acids.

  • Sardines: Small yet mighty, a 3.75-ounce can of sardines can deliver up to 35% of your daily calcium requirement. They’re great on toast, in salads, or as part of a pasta dish.
  • Canned salmon: A 3-ounce serving offers about 181 mg of calcium. It’s perfect for salads, sandwiches, or even on its own with a squeeze of lemon.

They make for easy, nutritious meals that support bone health and provide numerous other health benefits.

4. Fortified foods

Fortified foods, including plant-based milk and cereals, offer a convenient way to up your calcium intake, especially if you’re vegan [3], lactose intolerant, or just not a fan of dairy.

These foods have calcium added to them, making it easier to meet your daily needs without compromising on dietary preferences.

  • Plant-based milk: Almond, soy, oat, and rice milks are often fortified with calcium, providing about 300 to 450 mg per cup, similar to cow’s milk.
  • Cereals: Many breakfast cereals are fortified with added nutrients, including calcium. A single serving can meet up to 100% of your daily calcium requirement.

Always check the nutrition labels to ensure you’re getting a product that’s fortified with calcium.

5. Almonds

Packed with nutrients and flavor, almonds are a powerful source of calcium. Almonds are an excellent snack for bone health since they are high in calcium and a terrific source of fiber, protein, and healthy fats.

A quarter cup of almonds contains about 97 mg of calcium. You can enjoy almonds raw, roasted, or as almond butter. They’re also a great addition to salads, yogurt, or oatmeal.

Snacking on almonds or incorporating them into your meals not only adds a crunch but also contributes to your daily calcium intake.

6. Seeds

Seeds like chia, poppy, and sesame are not just for birds; they’re nutritional giants for humans too, especially when it comes to calcium. These tiny seeds are a fantastic way to boost your calcium intake naturally.

  • Chia seeds: With about 177 mg of calcium per two tablespoons, chia seeds are also rich in omega-3 fatty acids and fiber.
  • Poppy seeds: A tablespoon offers around 126 mg of calcium, making them a perfect addition to baked goods and dressings.
  • Sesame seeds: These small seeds pack a big punch, with a quarter cup providing almost 350 mg of calcium [4].

Not only will you benefit from their calcium content, but you’ll also get a dose of healthy fats, proteins, and other minerals essential for your health.

7. Beans and lentils

Not only are beans and lentils an excellent source of plant-based protein and fiber, but their calcium concentration makes them a useful supplement to any diet. In particular, for those who prefer a vegetarian or vegan diet, they can be crucial in preserving bone health.

  • White beans: Just one cup can provide around 161 mg of calcium, making them a standout choice for soups, stews, and salads.
  • Lentils: Besides being rich in protein, a cup of cooked lentils offers about 37 mg of calcium, along with significant amounts of iron and fiber.

Incorporating these into your meals is straightforward and beneficial. You can use them as a base for hearty dishes, add them to salads for extra texture, or blend them into dips and spreads.

beans and lentils

8. Dried figs

Dried figs are a sweet treat that comes with a bonus: they’re loaded with calcium. This makes them an excellent snack for anyone looking to boost their calcium intake in a natural and delicious way.

Just eight dried figs can provide about 107 mg of calcium, which is a substantial amount for such a small serving [5].

Dried figs can be enjoyed on their own or used to enhance the flavor and nutrition of various dishes. They work wonderfully in baked goods, paired with cheeses, or added to salads and cereals.

Their natural sweetness can satisfy your sugar cravings in a healthier way, making them a smart choice for a nutritious snack or a flavorful addition to meals.

9. Tofu and edamame

Tofu and edamame are soy-based foods known for their high protein content, but they’re also fantastic sources of calcium, especially for those following a plant-based diet.

  • Tofu: The calcium content in tofu can vary depending on the brand and type, but generally, a half-cup serving of tofu prepared with calcium sulfate can offer about 253 to 861 mg of calcium. It’s incredibly versatile, making it easy to include in a variety of dishes, from stir-fries to smoothies.
  • Edamame: These young soybeans are not only delicious but also provide calcium. A cup of cooked edamame offers around 98 mg of calcium, plus it’s a great source of protein.

Whether you’re adding tofu to your main dishes, snacking on edamame, or incorporating these soy products into salads and soups, you’re making a smart choice for boosting your calcium intake.

10. Oranges and orange juice

Oranges and fortified orange juice offer a refreshing way to boost your calcium intake, making them perfect for those who prefer fruity flavors over dairy or soy products.

  • Oranges: Not only are they juicy and delicious, but a single medium orange also provides approximately 60 mg of calcium. They’re a great snack and can add a citrusy zest to salads and desserts.
  • Fortified orange juice: A cup of fortified orange juice can contain up to 500 mg of calcium. It’s an easy and tasty option for breakfast or any time of day.

Including oranges and fortified orange juice in your diet is a simple yet effective way to ensure you’re getting enough calcium, especially if you’re on the go [6].

Final takeaways

Ensuring you get enough calcium is essential for maintaining strong bones and healthy teeth and supporting muscle function and nerve signaling.

We have explored a variety of foods rich in calcium, from dairy products to leafy greens and from seeds to fortified juices, offering options for everyone, regardless of dietary preferences or restrictions.

Calcium needs can vary by age, gender, and life stage, so it’s important to adjust your intake accordingly. If you’re unsure about how much calcium you need or how to best incorporate calcium-rich foods into your diet, consider consulting with a healthcare provider or a dietitian.

FAQs

How much calcium do I need every day?

Adults typically need about 1,000 mg of calcium per day, though this amount increases to 1,200 mg for women over 50 and men over 70. It’s essential to meet these requirements to maintain bone health and support bodily functions.

How does vitamin D relate to calcium absorption?

Vitamin D is crucial for calcium absorption in the body. Without adequate vitamin D, your body cannot absorb calcium effectively, regardless of how much you consume.

Do I need to take a calcium supplement?

Not everyone needs a calcium supplement; it depends on your ability to meet calcium needs through diet. Consult with a healthcare provider to determine if supplementation is necessary for you.

[1] https://www.hsph.harvard.edu/nutritionsource/calcium/
[2] https://medgate.ph/2023/10/25/the-health-benefits-of-leafy-greens/
[3] https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/322585
[4] https://saradapk.wordpress.com/2015/07/08/calcium-and-sesame/
[5] https://www.algaecal.com/calcium/foods/figs/
[6] https://www.bonehealthandosteoporosis.org/patients/treatment/nutrition/

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