Calcium-rich foods

Top 15 foods that contain a lot of calcium

Calcium has many benefits, but most people aren't eating enough. Here is a list of 15 foods that are rich in calcium, many of which are non-dairy.

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Calcium is very important for your health.

You have more calcium in your body than any other mineral.

It makes up much of your bones and teeth and plays a role in heart health, muscle function, and nerve signaling.

The recommended daily intake (RDI) of calcium is 1,000 mg per day for most adults, though women over 50 and everyone over 70 should get 1,200 mg per day, while children aged 4–18 are advised to consume 1,300 mg.

However, a large percentage of the population doesn’t meet their calcium needs through their diet.

The main foods rich in calcium are dairy products like milk, cheese, and yogurt. However, many non-dairy sources are also high in this mineral.

These include seafood, leafy greens, legumes, dried fruit, tofu, and various foods that are fortified with calcium.

Here are 15 foods that are rich in calcium, many of which are non-dairy.

1. Seeds

Seeds are tiny nutritional powerhouses. Some are high in calcium, including poppy, sesame, celery, and chia seeds.

For instance, 1 tablespoon (9 grams) of poppy seeds pack 126 mg of calcium or 13% of the recommended daily intake.

Seeds also deliver protein and healthy fats. For example, chia seeds are rich in plant-based omega-3 fatty acids.

Sesame seeds have 9% of the recommended daily intake for calcium in 1 tablespoon (9 grams), plus other minerals, including copper, iron, and manganese.

Summary: Many seeds are good sources of calcium. For instance, 1 tablespoon (9 grams) of poppy seeds has 13% of the recommended daily intake, while the same serving of sesame seeds packs 9% of the recommended daily intake.

2. Cheese

Most cheeses are excellent sources of calcium. Parmesan cheese has the most, with 331 mg — or 33% of the recommended daily intake — per ounce (28 grams).

Softer cheeses tend to have less — one ounce of brie only delivers 52 mg or 5% of the recommended daily intake. Many other varieties fall in the middle, providing about 20% of the recommended daily intake.

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As a bonus, your body absorbs the calcium in dairy products more easily than that from plant sources.

Many types of cheese are also packed with protein, such as cottage cheese.

What’s more, aged, hard cheeses are naturally low in lactose, making them easier to digest for people with lactose intolerance.

Dairy may have additional health benefits.

A recent study suggests it may lower the risk of heart disease.

Another study found that eating cheese daily was linked to a lower risk of metabolic syndrome, which raises your risk of heart disease, stroke, and type 2 diabetes.

However, keep in mind that full-fat cheese is also high in fat and calories. Most cheeses also contain a lot of sodium, which some people are sensitive to.

Summary: Parmesan cheese packs 33% of the recommended daily intake for calcium, while other types deliver 5–2%. Despite being high in fat and calories, cheese may lower your risk of heart disease.

3. Yogurt

Yogurt is an excellent source of calcium.

Many types of yogurt are also rich in live probiotic bacteria, which have various health benefits.

One cup (245 grams) of plain yogurt contains 30% of the recommended daily intake for calcium, as well as phosphorus, potassium, and vitamins B2 and B12.

Low-fat yogurt may be even higher in calcium, with 45% of the recommended daily intake in one cup (245 grams).

While Greek yogurt is a great way to get extra protein in your diet, it delivers less calcium than regular yogurt.

One study linked eating yogurt to better overall diet quality and improved metabolic health. People who ate yogurt had lower risks of metabolic diseases, such as type 2 diabetes and heart disease.

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Summary: Yogurt is one of the best sources of calcium, providing 30% of the recommended daily intake in one cup (245 grams). It’s also a good source of protein and other nutrients.

4. Sardines and canned salmon

Sardines and canned salmon are loaded with calcium, thanks to their edible bones.

A 3.75-ounce (92-gram) can of sardines packs 35% of the recommended daily intake, and 3 ounces (85 grams) of canned salmon with bones have 21%.

These oily fish also provide high-quality protein and omega-3 fatty acids, which are good for your heart, brain, and skin.

While seafood can contain mercury, smaller fish such as sardines have low levels. In addition, both sardines and salmon have high levels of selenium, a mineral that can prevent and reverse mercury toxicity.

Summary: Sardines and canned salmon are exceptionally healthy choices. A can of sardines gives you 35% of the recommended daily intake for calcium, while 3 ounces (85 grams) of canned salmon packs 21%.

5. Beans and lentils

Beans and lentils are high in fiber, protein and micronutrients.

They also boast lots of iron, zinc, folate, magnesium, and potassium.

Some varieties also have decent amounts of calcium.

However, winged beans top the chart — a single cup (172 grams) of cooked wing beans has 244 mg or 24% of the recommended daily intake for calcium.

White beans are also a good source, with one cup (179 grams) of cooked white beans providing 13% of the recommended daily intake. Other varieties of beans and lentils have less, ranging from around 4–6% of the recommended daily intake per cup.

Interestingly, beans are credited with being one of the reasons why plant-rich diets are so healthy. Research suggests that beans may help lower “bad” LDL cholesterol levels and reduce your risk of type 2 diabetes.

Summary: Beans are highly nutritious. One cup (172 grams) of cooked wing beans delivers 24% of the recommended daily intake for calcium, while other varieties provide around 4–13% for the same serving size.

6. Almonds

Of all nuts, almonds are among the highest in calcium — one ounce of almonds, or about 22 nuts, delivers 8% of the recommended daily intake.

Almonds also provide 3 grams of fiber per ounce (28 grams), as well as healthy fats and protein. In addition, they’re an excellent source of magnesium, manganese, and vitamin E.

Eating nuts may help lower blood pressure, body fat, and other risk factors for metabolic disease.

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Summary: Almonds are high in nutrients like healthy fats, protein, magnesium, and others. One ounce, or 22 nuts, delivers 8% of the recommended daily intake for calcium.

7. Whey protein

Whey protein is found in milk and has been extensively studied for its health benefits.

It’s an excellent protein source and full of quickly digested amino acids.

Several studies have linked whey-rich diets to weight loss and improved blood sugar control.

Whey is also exceptionally rich in calcium — a 1-ounce (28-gram) scoop of whey protein powder isolate contains 200 mg or 20% of the recommended daily intake.

Summary: Whey protein is an exceptionally healthy protein source and one scoop of whey protein powder has 20% of the recommended daily intake for calcium.

8. Some leafy greens

Dark, leafy greens are incredibly healthy, and some of them are high in calcium.

Greens that have good amounts of this mineral include collard greens, spinach, and kale.

For instance, one cup (190 grams) of cooked collard greens has 266 mg — a quarter of the amount you need in a day.

Note that some varieties are high in oxalates, which are naturally occurring compounds that bind to calcium, making some of it unavailable to your body.

Spinach is one of them. So although it has a lot of calcium, it’s less available than the calcium in low-oxalate greens, such as kale and collard greens.

Summary: Some dark, leafy greens are rich in calcium. One cup (190 grams) of cooked collard greens packs 25% of your daily needs. However, some leafy greens contain oxalates, which make some calcium unavailable to your body.

9. Rhubarb

Rhubarb has a lot of fiber, vitamin K, calcium, and smaller amounts of other vitamins and minerals.

It contains prebiotic fiber, which can promote healthy bacteria in your gut.

Like spinach, rhubarb is high in oxalates, so much of the calcium is not absorbed. One study found that your body can only absorb about a quarter of the calcium in rhubarb.

On the other hand, the calcium numbers for rhubarb are quite high. So even if you’re only absorbing 25%, you still get 87 mg per cup (240 grams) of cooked rhubarb.

Summary: Rhubarb has lots of fiber, vitamin K and other nutrients. The calcium may not be fully absorbed, but the numbers are high enough that you still get plenty.

10. Fortified foods

Another way to obtain calcium is from fortified foods.

Some types of cereal can deliver up to 1,000 mg (100% of the recommended daily intake) per serving — and that’s before adding milk.

However, keep in mind that your body can’t absorb all that calcium at once, and it’s best to spread your intake throughout the day.

Flour and cornmeal may also be fortified with calcium. This is why some bread, tortillas, and crackers contain high amounts.

Summary: Grain-based foods may be fortified with calcium. Read the label to find out how much of these mineral-fortified foods contain.

11. Amaranth

Amaranth is a highly nutritious pseudocereal.

It’s a good source of folate and very high in certain minerals, including manganese, magnesium, phosphorus, and iron.

One cup (246 grams) of cooked amaranth grain delivers 116 mg of calcium or 12% of the recommended daily intake.

Amaranth leaves contain even more — 28% of the recommended daily intake per cooked cup (132 grams). The leaves are also very high in vitamins A and C.

Summary: The seeds and leaves of amaranth are very nutritious. One cup (246 grams) of cooked amaranth grain provides 12% of the recommended daily intake for calcium, while the leaves pack 28% per cup (132 grams).

12. Edamame and tofu

Edamame is young soybeans, often sold while still encased in the pod.

One cup (155 grams) of edamame packs 10% of the recommended daily intake for calcium. It’s also a good source of protein and delivers all your daily folate in a single serving.

Tofu that’s been prepared with calcium also has exceptionally high amounts — you can get 86% of the recommended daily intake for calcium in just half a cup (126 grams).

Summary: Tofu and edamame are both rich in calcium. Just half a cup (126 grams) of tofu prepared with calcium has 86% of the recommended daily intake, while one cup (155 grams) of edamame packs 10%.

13. Fortified drinks

Even if you don’t drink milk, you can still get calcium from fortified, non-dairy beverages.

A cup (237 ml) of fortified soy milk has 30% of the recommended daily intake.

What’s more, its 7 grams of protein make it the non-dairy milk that’s most nutritionally similar to cow’s milk.

Other types of nut- and seed-based milk may be fortified with even higher levels.

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However, fortification isn’t just for non-dairy milk. Orange juice can also be fortified, providing as much as 50% of the recommended daily intake per cup (237 ml).

Summary: Non-dairy milk and orange juice can be fortified with calcium. For example, one cup (237 ml) of fortified orange juice can have 50% of the recommended daily intake, while the same serving of fortified soy milk packs 30%.

14. Figs

Dried figs are rich in antioxidants and fiber.

They also have more calcium than other dried fruits. Dried figs provide 5% of the recommended daily intake for calcium in one ounce (28 grams).

Moreover, figs provide decent amounts of potassium and vitamin K.

Summary: Dried figs contain more calcium than other dried fruits. A single ounce (28 grams) has 5% of your daily needs for this mineral.

15. Milk

Milk is one of the best and cheapest calcium sources.

One cup (237 ml) of cow’s milk has 276–352 mg, depending on whether it’s whole or nonfat milk. The calcium in dairy is also absorbed well.

Additionally, milk is a good source of protein, vitamin A and vitamin D.

Goat’s milk is another excellent source of calcium, providing 327 mg per cup (237 ml).

Summary: Milk is a great source of well-absorbed calcium. One cup (237 ml) of milk provides 27–35% of the recommended daily intake for this mineral.

Summary

Calcium is an important mineral that you may not be getting enough of.

While dairy products tend to pack the highest amounts of this mineral, plenty of other good sources exist — many of which are plant-based.

You can easily meet your calcium needs by eating from the diverse list of foods in this article.

Last updated on October 17, 2021, and last reviewed by an expert on October 12, 2021.
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