Calcium Bone Density

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Have you heard about calcium bone density testing? The amount of calcium in your bones as well as the amount of minerals and other chemical elements found in them are important indicators of your general health. This is why it’s a good idea to learn everything you can about this testing procedure so you’ll know whether or not it will benefit you.

Calcium Bone Density


Adults need 700mg of calcium a day. You should be able to get all the calcium you need by eating a varied and balanced diet.

Good sources of calcium include:

  • milk, cheese and other dairy foods
  • green leafy vegetables, such as broccoli, cabbage and okra, but not spinach
  • soya beans
  • tofu
  • plant-based drinks (such as soya drink) with added calcium
  • nuts
  • bread and anything made with fortified flour
  • fish where you eat the bones, such as sardines and pilchards

Although spinach contains a lot of calcium, it also contains oxalate, which reduces calcium absorption, and it is therefore not a good source of calcium.


Many nutrients are involved in keeping bones healthy. Calcium and vitamin D are two of the most important.

Calcium is a mineral that’s essential to your body functioning properly and is stored in your bones. Your body needs vitamin D to absorb calcium. Not getting enough calcium in your diet can lead to fragile, brittle bones that are more prone to fractures and disease.

Vitamin K, vitamin C, magnesium, and phosphorus are other important nutrients for bone health.

Calcium is a mineral that the body needs for good health. Calcium is found naturally in some foods and is added to others. It also is available as a nutrition supplement and is contained in some medicines like Tums®.

Why does the body need calcium?

Calcium is the healthy bone mineral. About 99% of the calcium in the body is stored in the bones and teeth. It’s the mineral that makes them hard and strong. The remaining 1% is needed for many activities that help keep the body functioning normally. Calcium helps blood vessels contract (narrow) and expand, makes muscles contract, helps send messages through the nervous system and helps glands secrete hormones.

Bones are constantly being remodeled every day, and calcium moves in and out of them. In children and adolescents, the body builds new bone faster than it breaks down old bone so total bone mass increases. This continues until about age 30, when new bone formation and old bone breakdown start occurring at about the same rate. In older adults, especially in post-menopausal women, bone is broken down at a faster rate than it’s built. If calcium intake is too low, this can contribute to osteoporosis.

How much calcium does an adult need to take in every day?

The amount of calcium needed for healthy bones and teeth is different by age. The National Institutes of Health suggests these levels of daily intake for adults:

Daily suggested calcium intake for adults

  • Adults 19-50 years: 1,000 mg.
  • Adult men 51-70 years: 1,000 mg.
  • Adult women 51-70 years: 1,200 mg.
  • Adults 71 years and older: 1,200 mg.
  • Pregnant and breastfeeding teens: 1,300 mg.
  • Pregnant and breastfeeding adults: 1,000 mg.

Here is a list of calcium rich foods for kids for your reference:

1. Milk and Milk products

Cows milk, buffalo milk, goat milk can be started after 1 year of age.

Whole fat cows milk is recommended until age 2

Calcium content:

Cows milk (2% ) contains about 120 mg calcium/100ml

Goat Milk contains about 134 mg calcium /100 ml

Buffalo Milk  contains about 210 mg /100 ml

Other milk products to try with babies 8-9 months and older.

Fresh homemade curd 149 mg /100 gm

Paneer (Cottage cheese) 200mg /100 gm

Cheese 721 mg /100 gm

source: USDA and IAP

Though with paneer and cheese caution should be exercised. These foods are high in saturated fats and sodium, limit intake to 1-2 cubes of paneer at a time, and small portions of grated cheese as toppings on foods for toddlers.

When buying cheese avoid processed cheese and look for natural hard cheeses containing minimal salt. Goats cheese, swiss cheese, cheddar cheese are great cheese options for toddlers. Check my recommendations for natural cheese here.

Many children however, don’t particularly like the taste of milk or dairy products, if you are worried about your child not getting enough calcium, don’t, read on to find more sources of calcium for toddlers that don’t drink milk.

2. Soy

Soy in the form of fortified soymilk, tofu set in calcium sulfate, edamame, tempeh can be included in the toddler’s diet in various ways to increase calcium intake.

Tofu can contain about 200 mg/100 gms of calcium depending on how it’s prepared.

Food ideas: Sauteed tofu, tofu chilly, tofu scramble, curries with tofu/soy nuggets added as a meat replacement.

3. Broccoli & certain dark green vegetables

Cruciferous veggies like broccoli and dark green leaves like kale, collard greens, spinach leaves, turnip leaves, amaranth leaves, and watercress are all great sources of calcium. When it comes to green vegetables it is important to mix it up and try different combinations.

Food ideas: Broccoli soup for babies, broccoli paratha, broccoli patty, watercress salad, add kale to pesto, amaranth leaves to paratha, Broccoli dosa wraps.

4. Ragi (Finger Millet)

Millets like ragi are traditional first foods for babies in India. Ragi is a rich source of calcium at about 344 mg/100 gms. It’s easy to digest for babies, gluten-free, and a super nutritious grain for children. Here is a post I wrote recently on why millets are good for babies.

Food ideas: Ragi porridge for babies, ragi pancakes for toddlers, ragi dosas, ragi idlis, ragi- whole wheat chappati.

5. Beans and Lentils

Beans like white beans, baked beans, kidney beans (rajma), chickpeas, and lentils like black gram dal (urad dal), pigeon peas (tuvar dal), bengal gram (chana dal ) are calcium rich foods for babies.

The Indian diet uses these beans and lentils in very effective combinations to make some lip-smacking foods. It’s hard not to enjoy beans and lentils in our part of the world, and it’s just an added bonus that these superfoods are some of the best sources of vegetarian protein, iron, and calcium rich food for babies.

Food ideas: In vegetarian side dishes, dals, lentil and bean soups, hummus, bean parathas, curries, khichdi (rice and lentil dish), bean chilly, baked beans on toast. Here are some lentil recipes for toddlers. Read here for more recipes using lentils for kids.

6. Sesame seeds

100 gms of sesame seeds contain up to 975 mg of calcium! While one cannot consume sesame seeds in such a large amount, it makes sense to include some sesame seeds in homemade hummus, tahini and use sesame seeds in ladoos or energy balls.

Including such calcium-rich recipes for toddlers daily should get more preference over cookies or chips.

Food ideas: As part of energy bars and energy balls, tahini, hummus.

Add a tablespoon of tahini to your toddlers morning oats porridge, or use tahini as a dipping sauce for cut veggies.

Date And Sesame Bliss Balls

7. Almonds

Nuts are a good source of calcium, but among nuts, the highest calcium content is in almonds at 248 mg/100 gms.

Food ideas: Almond nut powder on porridge, almond butter with whole wheat crackers or chapati, or almonds in pesto sauce.

Here is a quick recipe to make your own homemade nut butter.

Almond butter
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Of all the tree nuts you can find at the grocery store, almonds have the highest amount of calcium per serving. You can get the same calcium benefits in butter form. As a bonus, almond butter has no cholesterol and is lower in fat and higher in protein than peanut butter.

8. Green peas

Green peas contain about 25 mg of calcium/100 gms. They can easily be added to a number of dishes or used as a side making them a versatile vegetable to work with.

Food ideas: Green peas patty, Pea soup, added to rice dishes, added to upma, poha.

9. Amaranth

Amaranth (rajgira) is used in many traditional Indian recipes. Both the leaf and the grains are considered nutritious. Of particular importance is the amount of calcium in Amaranth at 159 mg/100gms.

The grains need to be sprouted for 2-3 days in order to reduce the antinutrients present in them. Once sprouted you can cook amaranth similar to a rice or couscous dish.

Traditionally amaranth flour is used to make ladoos in Indian homes.

Food ideas: As porridge, in soups and stews, amaranth flour pancakes, amaranth flour ladoos, in salads, or as amaranth patty.

Amaranth Ladoo Recipe

This recipe includes amaranth flour and crushed almonds building up the calcium content and making it a calcium-rich food for kids

10. Okra

You may be surprised to find this vegetable on the list but Okra contains about 82 mg/100 gm of vegetable. That’s a good amount of calcium per serving. Okra is a commonly used vegetable in Indian homes with most kids loving Indian okra dishes.

Okra raw
What are the best ways to get enough calcium?

The best way to get enough calcium every day is to eat a variety of healthy foods from all the different food groups. Getting enough vitamin D every day from foods like enriched milk or from natural sunlight is important to help the body absorb and use calcium from food.

Here are some easy guidelines for selecting foods high in calcium:

  • Dairy products have the highest calcium content. Dairy products include milk, yogurt and cheese. A cup (8 ounces) of milk contains 300 mg of calcium. The calcium content is the same for skim, low fat and whole milk.
  • Dark green, leafy vegetables contain high amounts of calcium. Broccoli, kale and collards are all good sources of calcium, especially when eaten raw or lightly steamed. (Boiling vegetables can take out much of their mineral content.)
  • A serving of canned salmon or sardines has about 200 mg of calcium. It’s found in the soft bones of the fish.
  • Cereal, pasta, breads and other food made with grains may add calcium to the diet. Look for cereals that are fortified with minerals, including calcium.
  • Besides cereal, calcium is sometimes added to fruit juices, soy and rice beverages and tofu. Read product labels to find out if a food item has added calcium.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture recommends that everyone aged 9 years and older eat three servings of foods from the dairy group per day.

1 serving of dairy equals:

  • 1 cup (8 ounces) milk.
  • 1 cup yogurt.
  • 1.5 ounces of natural cheese (such as cheddar).
  • 2 ounces of processed cheese (such as American).

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