Did you know a mineral reduces the risk of kidney stones, brain alterations, cancer, rickets, heart failure, and osteoporosis? Calcium is the mineral responsible for preventing these health disorders (1). Calcium storage in the body is done in bones and teeth and some in the blood and tissues.
We discuss 13 foods rich in calcium that you should add to your diet daily to avoid these health hazards and enjoy other health benefits.
13 Foods Rich in Calcium
Cheese is an example of a dairy product rich in vitamins A, C, K, and D, sodium, healthy fats, zinc, protein, and calcium. Cheese comes in different tastes and textures. Parmesan Cheese is the richest in calcium. It serves 242 milligrams of calcium or 19% of the required daily allowance (2).
Soft cheeses, like Brie, provide 4% of the daily calcium value or 52 milligrams of calcium (3). Cheese is also rife in protein. For example, cottage cheese has 23 grams of protein (4) and 223 milligrams of calcium: cheddar cheese and Ricotta cheese grant up to 200 milligrams and 289 milligrams of calcium, respectively.
In the case of lactose intolerance, especially in the aged, hard cheese comes with low lactose to ensure easy lactose digestion (5). Cheese lowers the risk of cardiovascular ailments, stroke, type diabetes, and metabolic syndrome.
Seeds are small in size, but they are nutritional powerhouses. Seeds contain nutrients such as protein, sugars, calories, fiber, carbs, healthy fats, and minerals like sodium, potassium, zinc, and calcium. 1 teaspoon (9 grams) of Sesame seeds serves 88 milligrams of calcium and other minerals such as manganese, iron, and copper (6). Chia seeds give 78 milligrams and are rife with omega-three fatty acids. Poppy seeds are awash with 127 milligrams of calcium, which translates to 10% of the daily value (7).
Seeds are actively responsible for fighting inflammation, lowering the risk of diabetes, prostate and breast cancer, regulating blood pressure, avoiding stroke, and improving sleep patterns (8).
Yogurt is a dairy product rich in several nutrients, such as calcium, selenium, zinc, vitamin B12, phosphorus, potassium, magnesium, vitamin D, protein, and riboflavin (9). Yogurt contains bacteria known as Probiotics, which are responsible for improving heart health, immune system, and nutrient absorption rate.
Every cup of plain yogurt has up to 235 grams of calcium or 23 % of the required daily allowance. It also has vitamins B2, B12, phosphorus, and potassium minerals.
Low-fat yogurt contains the highest amount of calcium, 34% of the daily value (10). On the other hand, Greek yogurt has the least calcium amount but is rich in protein. Daily consumption of yogurt lowers the development of cardiovascular disorders and diabetes.
4. Nuts & almonds
Nuts are rich in unsaturated fats, also known as healthy or good fat. They also have plant sterols that lower body cholesterol levels, L-arginine that lowers blood pressure, fiber that improves digestive health, omega-three fatty acids that reduce the risk of heart attacks, and calcium responsible for bone health (11).
Almonds are the best source of calcium, among other nuts. For example, 23 nuts almonds supply about 6% of the required daily calcium allowance. They also have 3.5 g of dietary fiber, magnesium, manganese, protein, and vitamin E (12). Eating nuts daily lowers the body’s blood pressure, metabolic ailments, and body fats.
5. Fatty fish
Fatty fish contain vitamins A, and D, omega-three fatty acids, healthy fat, protein, niacin, and calcium. Examples of fatty fish include tuna, sardines, mackerel, salmon, trout, sword, and pelagic fish (13). Sardines and salmon are the best sources of calcium due to the edibility of their bones.
Sardines weighing 92 grams contain 23% of the required daily allowance. Salmon grants 19% of the daily calcium value. These fatty fish are also responsible for maintaining heart, skin, and brain health (14).
Daily consumption of seafood is not advisable. That is mostly because seafood contains mercury, which may harm your health. Sardines and salmon are exceptional because they contain selenium minerals that curb mercury toxicity (15).
Legumes supply the body with nutrients such as protein, fiber, folate, magnesium, potassium, iron, zinc, and calcium. Legumes include beans and lentils. Winged beans, for example, provide 244 milligrams of calcium, or 19% of the daily value (16). ]
Edamame beans supply 8% of the daily calcium value for every 155 grams. With 126 g of Tofu, you get over 66% of the required daily calcium allowance.
A cup of cooked beans gives out 12% of the daily value of calcium. Soybeans are an excellent provider of calcium, especially for a vegan diet. Half a cup of soybean provides up to 230 milligrams of calcium (17).
Baked beans give 160 milligrams of calcium and are also rich in dietary fiber. Legumes are significant contributors to lowering cholesterol levels and reducing diabetes risks.
Milk is readily available and rich in calcium. A glass of milk contains 306 to 325 milligrams of calcium or 25% of the daily value (18). Other nutritional benefits of milk include the presence of protein, magnesium, potassium, fatty acids, sodium, iron, and vitamins A, B12, B6, C, and D. Note that the body absorbs calcium from milk and other dairy products faster than from plant sources.
Milk has been referenced with healthy, strong bones due to availability of calcium, potassium, phosphorus, and vitamin K. A glass of milk a day prevents weight gain, which is good news for those who are on a weight loss journey (19).
Milk is a versatile ingredient that you can easily incorporate into your daily diets, for example, in oatmeal, coffee, smoothies, and soups.
8. Whey protein
Whey protein is the liquid that remains when you remove the cheese from milk. It is incredibly abundant in calcium. An ounce of whey protein contains up to 160 milligrams of calcium, or 12% of the daily value (20). As the word suggests, it has a high amount of protein and amino acids, which facilitate muscle recovery and growth.
Whey protein is necessary for weight and blood sugar management, reduction of asthma, cancer, and heart disease risks, and lowering cholesterol. Excessive consumption of whey protein may cause nausea, fatigue, headache, loss of appetite, cramps, and stomach pains (21).
Leafy greens are not only delicious but also nutritious. They include spinach, sprouts, tomatoes, kale, and collard greens. Dark green vegetables are rich in potassium, vitamins A and C, dietary fiber, folate, and calcium (22).
Collard vegetables contain 268 milligrams of calcium or 21% of the daily allowance. Spinach is rich in oxalates which bind and impair calcium for absorption. Due to the high oxalate in spinach, the calcium absorption rate is slow compared to low-oxalate vegetables such as kale (23).
Vegetables are essential in blood pressure maintenance, reducing cardiovascular diseases and cancer risks, improving skin health, and lowering body sugar (24).
10. Fortified cereals
Fortified cereals come with ease to meet the required daily calcium allowance. That is because they provide about 1000 milligrams of calcium, equal to 100% of the daily value (25). As incredible as that news may sound, note that your body cannot absorb all the calcium at a glance.
Fortified cornmeal and flour in tortillas, crackers, and bread contain calcium in high amounts (26). Morning hours are best to enjoy fortified cereals, especially for breakfast, and distribute them throughout the day’s meals.
Fortified cereals contain vitamins A, B1, B2, B3, B 6, B12, D, iron, zinc, and folic acid. These nutrients are responsible for growth in kids, maintaining pregnancy, bone health, and preventing type-2type-2 diabetes and anemia (27).
These are ancient nutritious grains. They contain 251 g of calories, 46 g of carbohydrates, 5 g of healthy fats, 9.3 g of protein, and minerals such as magnesium, manganese, iron, copper, selenium, phosphorus, and calcium.
Cooked amaranth grains give 116 milligrams of calcium or 9% of the daily value (28). Its leaves have a 21% daily calcium value and vitamins A and C.
Amaranth reduces inflammation, has antioxidants, and lowers cholesterol. It’s gluten-free, so it’s not harmful to people with celiac disease (29). It’s best to soak Amaranth grains in water first before cooking.
12. Fortified Drinks
Fortified drinks are non-dairy beverages that supply calcium to people who don’t take milk. They include orange juices mixed with carrots, dates, and chia seeds. This orange boost pumps your body with 237 milligrams or 27 % of daily calcium value and essential nutrients (30).
Vegan Haldi supplies your body with antioxidants and anti-inflammatory properties and fights chronic infection. Pineapple-kale smoothies, spinach, and almond smoothies are rife with calcium for strengthening your bones and teeth and helping you manage weight.
13. Dried Figs
Figs are rich in 30g of calories, 8g of carbohydrates, fiber, copper, magnesium, potassium, thiamine, vitamins B6 and K, riboflavin, and 40 g of calcium, or 5% of the daily value (31).
These minerals are responsible for strong and healthy bones, reduction of blood pressure and cholesterol, helping avoid stroke, diabetes, chronic diseases, e.g., cancer, and improving digestive, heart, skin, and vascular health (32).
How Much Calcium Should I Consume?
Excessive consumption of calcium is associated with headaches, bone pain, fatigue, irritability, memory loss, muscle ache, depression, constipation, loss of appetite, and cramping.
So, how much calcium should you take per day?
- 200 milligrams for babies between 0-6 months.
- 260 milligrams for 7-12 month babies.
- 700 milligrams for kids between 1-3 years.
- 1000 milligrams for children ages 4-8 and adults between 19-50.
- 1,300 milligrams for those aged 9-18, pregnant, and lactating mothers.
- 1,200 milligrams for female adults above 50 years and males above 70 years.
Calcium-rich foods are essential for the growth and maintenance of strong and healthy bones. It’s also crucial for healthy cell and organ function. Your body needs calcium to support your muscles and the nerve system and regulate hormone levels and blood pressure (33).
Always include foods rich in calcium to your daily meals to enjoy its full benefits.