Calcium Rich Foods


The Best Calcium Rich Foods

Calcium is essential for strong teeth and bones because it gives them strength and rigidity. Our bodies contain about 1kg of this vital mineral and 99% of it is found in our bones and teeth. Most people should be able to get enough calcium through healthy eating.

How much calcium should we be aiming to consume each day?

Daily RNI (Reference Nutrient Intake) of calcium according to age:

  • 0-12 months (non-breastfed only) – 525mg
  • 1-3 years – 350mg
  • 4-6 years – 450mg
  • 7-10 years – 550mg
  • 11-18 years – boys – 1000mg
  • 11-18 years – girls – 800mg
  • Adults (19+) years – 700mg
  • Pregnant women – 700mg
  • Breastfeeding women – 700mg + 550mg

Which foods contain calcium and how much is in an average portion?People taking osteoporosis drug treatments may benefit from a daily calcium intake of around 1000mg. Your doctor or GP will be able to advise you on how much calcium you should eat if you have been prescribed these treatments.

Wooden board with selection of cheeses

Cheese and cheese-based dishes

Amount of calcium per average portion size:

  • 30g parmesan cheese – 300mg
  • 40g edam/gouda – 300mg
  • 60g paneer cheese – 300mg
  • 30g cheddar cheese/low-fat hard cheese – 200mg
  • 30g halloumi – 200mg
  • 80g cottage cheese – 100mg
  • 40g camembert – 100mg

Find more cheese recipes.A cheeseboard may be the most obvious serving suggestion, but dishes made with cheese also count towards your daily total, such as cheese omelettes, quiches made with cheese and egg, and dishes with cheese-based sauces like macaroni cheese or cauliflower cheese.

Milk being poured into a glass

Milk – skimmed, semi-skimmed, whole and soya

Amount of calcium per average portion size:

  • 200ml milk (skimmed/semi-skimmed/whole) – 240mg
  • 200ml soya milk (calcium fortified) – 240mg
Pot of berry bircher muesli with yogurt

Drink milk on its own or paired with low-sugar cereal or muesli. Milk-based drinks such as malted milk, hot chocolate or milkshakes also count, but be aware that the sugar in these can be quite high. Porridge made with milk is a good breakfast option, while rice pudding is a classic milk-based dessert.

Yogurt – plain, low-fat and soya

Amount of calcium per average portion size:

  • 125g yogurt (low-fat, plain and calcium-fortified soya) – 200mg
  • 47g ‘mini pot’ fortified fromage frais – 50mg

Find more yogurt recipes.Serve plain yogurt with fresh fruit as a dessert or snack, or make into Bircher muesli for breakfast.

Grilled tofu with noodles and vegetables in bowl

Tofu – firm, soft or silken (calcium-set)

Amount of calcium per average portion size:

  • 120g tofu (steamed or fried) – 200mg

Find more tofu recipes.Tofu is an extremely versatile ingredient and makes a great addition to curries, stir fries and even cannelloni.

Sardines in colourful salad

Canned fish – sardines and salmon

Amount of calcium per average portion size:

  • 50g sardines (canned) – 200mg
  • 105g tinned pink salmon – 100mg

Find more sardine recipes.Canned fish is a useful storecupboard addition and increases your calcium intake too. Thrifty sardines are great in pasta dishes or on toast, while tinned salmon is delicious in salads or quick & easy fishcakes.

Bowl of raw broccoli

Some fruit, vegetables and pulses

Amount of calcium per average portion size:

  • 2 dried figs – 100mg
  • 200g baked beans – 85mg
  • 70g red kidney beans (canned) – 50mg
  • 90g green or French beans – 50mg
  • 95g green or white cabbage – 50mg
  • 110g broccoli (steamed) – 50mg
  • 40g watercress – 50mg
  • 400g tinned tomatoes – 50mg
  • 8 dried apricots – 50mg
  • 1 large orange – 50mg
Sesame seeds on a scoop with tahini paste in a bowl

Eating a variety of fruit and vegetables is important for good health – but the ones highlighted above can also contribute towards your daily calcium total. Try our recipes for green beans, cabbage, broccoli and canned tomatoes.

Some nuts and seeds

Amount of calcium per average portion size:

  • 1 heaped tsp tahini (sesame paste) – 100mg
  • 1 tbsp sesame seeds – 100mg
  • 10 whole almonds – 50mg
  • 9 whole Brazil nuts – 50mg

Find out more about the health benefits of nuts.Certain nuts and seeds are a good source of calcium and they’re easy to incorporate into your diet, too. Mix tahini into yogurt or hummus for a delicious dressing or try making your own almond butter.

Pita breads on a chopping board

Some carbohydrates – bread, pasta, rice

Amount of calcium per average portion size:

  • 75g white pitta bread – 100mg
  • 43g plain naan bread – 80mg
  • 1 medium slice white bread – 50mg
  • 1 thick slice wholemeal bread – 50mg
  • 230g cooked pasta, boiled – 50mg

Look through our healthy pasta and healthy sandwich recipes.You might be surprised to discover that bread is fortified with calcium, so even toast can contribute towards your intake along with other calcium-rich foods.

What are the best sources of calcium for vegans or people with a dairy intolerance?

If you don’t eat dairy products, you will need to include lots of other calcium-rich foods such as green leafy vegetables, almonds, sesame seeds, dried fruit, pulses, fortified soya drinks and soya protein (tofu) in your diet. A vegetarian diet is not a risk factor for osteoporosis, and vegetarians and vegans do not appear to have poorer bone health than the rest of the population.

If you are lactose intolerant, make sure you enjoy plenty of non-dairy calcium-rich foods such as pilchards, sardines, curly kale, watercress, sesame seeds and tahini (sesame seed spread). You could also choose fortified foods, such as mineral water, soya milk or bread with added calcium. Check the label on the packet to see how much calcium has been added to each portion.

Top 15 Calcium-Rich Foods (Many Are Nondairy)

Calcium is not only the most abundant mineral in the body but also very important for your health.

In fact, it makes up much of your bones and teeth and plays a role in heart health, muscle function, and nerve signaling (1Trusted Source).

For most adults, it’s recommended to consume at least 1,000 mg of calcium per day, though certain groups require a higher amount, including adolescents, postmenopausal women, and older adults (2Trusted Source).

Although dairy products like milk, cheese, and yogurt are especially high in calcium, many dairy-free sources of calcium are available.

Here are 15 foods that are rich in calcium, many of which are nondairy.

1. Seeds

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

For instance, 1 tablespoon (9 grams) of poppy seeds packs 127 mg of calcium, or 10% of the recommended Daily Value (DV) (3Trusted Source).

Seeds also deliver protein and healthy fats. For example, chia seeds are rich in plant-based omega-3 fatty acids (4Trusted Source).

Sesame seeds contain 7% of the DV for calcium in 1 tablespoon (9 grams), plus other minerals, including copper, iron, and manganese (5Trusted Source).

SummaryMany seeds are good sources of calcium and also deliver other important nutrients, such as protein and healthy fats. One tablespoon (9 grams) of poppy seeds contains 10% of the DV for calcium, while a serving of sesame seeds has 7% of the DV.

2. Cheese

Most cheeses are excellent sources of calcium. Parmesan cheese has the most, with 242 mg — or 19% of the DV — per ounce (28 grams) (6Trusted Source).

Softer cheeses tend to have less. For instance, 1 ounce (28 grams) of Brie only delivers 52 mg, or 4% of the DV (7Trusted Source).

As a bonus, your body absorbs the calcium in dairy products more easily than that from plant sources (8Trusted Source).

Cheese also delivers protein. Cottage cheese has 23 grams of protein per cup (9Trusted Source).

What’s more, aged, hard cheeses are naturally low in lactose, making them easier to digest for people with lactose intolerance (10Trusted Source).

Dairy may have additional health benefits. For example, one review of 31 studies suggests that increased dairy intake may be associated with a lower risk of heart disease (11Trusted Source).

Another review found that the regular consumption of milk and yogurt was linked to a lower risk of metabolic syndrome, a condition that raises your risk of heart disease, stroke, and type 2 diabetes (12Trusted Source).

However, keep in mind that full fat cheese can be high in saturated fat and calories. Certain cheeses also contain a lot of sodium, which some people may need to limit.

SummaryParmesan cheese packs 19% of the DV for calcium, while other types like Brie deliver around 4%. Despite being high in saturated fat and calories, eating dairy may lower your risk of heart disease.

3. Yogurt

Yogurt is an excellent source of calcium.

Many types of yogurt are also rich in probiotics, a type of beneficial bacteria that can promote immune function, improve heart health, and enhance nutrient absorption (13Trusted Source).

One cup (245 grams) of plain yogurt contains 23% of the DV for calcium, as well as a hearty dose of phosphorus, potassium, and vitamins B2 and B12 (14Trusted Source).

Low fat yogurt may be even higher in calcium, with 34% of the DV in 1 cup (245 grams) (15Trusted Source).

On the other hand, while Greek yogurt is a great way to get extra protein in your diet, it delivers less calcium than regular yogurt (16Trusted Source).

In addition to providing a wide array of nutrients, some research also shows that regular consumption of yogurt may be linked to a lower risk of developing heart disease and type 2 diabetes (17Trusted Source, 18Trusted Source).

SummaryYogurt is one of the best sources of calcium, providing up to 34% of the DV in 1 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 27% of the DV, and 3 ounces (85 grams) of canned salmon with bones has 19% (19Trusted Source, 20Trusted Source).

These oily fish also provide high quality protein and omega-3 fatty acids, which can support the health of your heart, brain, and skin (21Trusted Source, 22Trusted Source).

While seafood may 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 (23Trusted Source).

SummarySardines and canned salmon are exceptionally nutritious choices. A can of sardines gives you 27% of the DV for calcium, while 3 ounces (85 grams) of canned salmon packs 19%.

5. Beans and lentils

Beans and lentils are high in fiber, protein, and micronutrients, including iron, zinc, folate, magnesium, and potassium.

Some varieties also have decent amounts of calcium, including winged beans, which supply 244 mg, or 19% of the DV, in a single cooked cup (172 grams) (24Trusted Source).

White beans are also a good source, with 1 cup (179 grams) of cooked white beans providing 12% of the DV. Other varieties of beans and lentils have less, ranging from around 3-4% of the DV per cup (175 grams) (25Trusted Source, 26Trusted Source, 27Trusted Source).

Interestingly, beans are credited with many of the health benefits associated with plant-based diets. In fact, research suggests that beans may help lower LDL (bad) cholesterol levels and reduce your risk of developing type 2 diabetes (28Trusted Source).

SummaryBeans are highly nutritious. One cup (172 grams) of cooked wing beans delivers 19% of the DV for calcium, while other varieties provide around 3–12% for the same serving size.

6. Almonds

Of all nuts, almonds are among the highest in calcium. Just 1 ounce (28 grams) of almonds, or about 23 nuts, delivers 6% of the DV (29Trusted Source).

Almonds also provide 3.5 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 also help lower blood pressure, body fat, and multiple other risk factors for metabolic disease (30Trusted Source).

SummaryAlmonds are high in nutrients like healthy fats, protein, and magnesium. One ounce (28 grams) of almonds, or 23 nuts, delivers 6% of the DV for calcium.

7. Whey protein

Whey is a type of protein found in milk that has been well studied for its potential health benefits (31Trusted Source).

It’s also an excellent protein source and full of rapidly digested amino acids, which help promote muscle growth and recovery (32Trusted Source).

Interestingly, some studies have even linked whey-rich diets to increased weight loss and improved blood sugar management (33Trusted Source).

Whey is also exceptionally rich in calcium — a 1.2-ounce (33-gram) scoop of whey protein powder isolate contains approximately 160 mg, or 12% of the DV (34Trusted Source).

Which protein powder is best?

Healthline reviewed the best protein powders and gave our picks for the best of each — including calcium-rich whey protein.

SummaryWhey protein is an exceptionally healthy protein source and contains approximately 12% of the DV for calcium in each 1.2-ounce (33-gram) scoop.

8. Leafy greens

Leafy green vegetables are incredibly healthy, and many of them are high in calcium, including collard greens, spinach, and kale.

For instance, 1 cup (190 grams) of cooked collard greens has 268 mg of calcium, or about 21% of the amount that you need in a day (35Trusted Source).

Note that some varieties, such as spinach, are high in oxalates, which are naturally occurring compounds that bind to calcium and impair its absorption (36Trusted Source).

Therefore, although spinach is rich in calcium, it’s not absorbed as well as other calcium-rich greens that are low in oxalates, such as kale and collard greens.

SummarySome leafy greens are rich in calcium, including collard greens, which contain 21% of the DV in each cooked cup (190 grams). However, certain leafy greens contain oxalates, which can decrease the absorption of calcium.

9. Rhubarb

Rhubarb is rich in fiber, vitamin K, calcium, and smaller amounts of other vitamins and minerals.

It also contains prebiotic fiber, a type of fiber that can promote the growth of healthy bacteria in your gut (37Trusted Source).

Like spinach, rhubarb is high in oxalates, so much of the calcium is not absorbed. In fact, one study found that your body can only absorb around 5% of the calcium found in rhubarb (38).

On the other hand, even if you’re only absorbing a small amount, rhubarb is still a source of calcium, with 105 mg of calcium per cup (122 grams) of raw rhubarb, or about 8% of the DV (39Trusted Source).

SummaryRhubarb is high in fiber, vitamin K, and other nutrients. It also contains calcium, although only a small amount is absorbed by the body.

10. Fortified foods

Fortified foods like cereals can make it easier to meet your daily calcium needs.

In fact, some types of cereal can deliver up to 1,000 mg (100% of the DV) per serving — and that’s before adding milk (40Trusted Source).

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 breads, tortillas, and crackers contain high amounts (41Trusted SourceTrusted Source, 42Trusted Source).

SummaryGrain-based foods are often fortified with calcium, including some breakfast cereals, tortillas, breads, and crackers.

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 9% of the DV (43Trusted Source).

Amaranth leaves contain even more, with 21% of the DV for calcium per cooked cup (132 grams), along with a good amount of vitamins A and C (44Trusted Source).

SummaryThe seeds and leaves of amaranth are very nutritious. One cup (246 grams) of cooked amaranth provides 9% of the DV for calcium, while the leaves pack 21% per cup (132 grams).

12. Edamame and tofu

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

One cup (155 grams) of cooked edamame packs 8% of the DV for calcium. It’s also a good source of protein and delivers all of your daily folate in a single serving (45Trusted Source).

Tofu that has been prepared with calcium also has exceptionally high amounts, with over 66% of the DV for calcium in just half a cup (126 grams) (46Trusted Source).

SummaryTofu and edamame are both rich in calcium. Just half a cup (126 grams) of tofu prepared with calcium has 66% of the DV, while 1 cup (155 grams) of cooked edamame packs 8%.

13. Fortified drinks

Even if you don’t drink milk, you can still get calcium from many fortified, nondairy beverages.

One cup (237 mL) of fortified soy milk has 23% of the DV.

What’s more, its 6 grams of protein make it the nondairy milk that’s most nutritionally similar to cow’s milk (47Trusted Source).

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

However, fortification isn’t just for nondairy milks. For instance, orange juice can also be fortified, providing as much as 27% of the DV per cup (237 mL) (48Trusted Source).

SummaryNondairy milks and orange juice may be fortified with calcium. For example, 1 cup (237 mL) of fortified orange juice can have 27% of the DV, while the same serving of fortified soy milk packs 23%.

14. Figs

Dried figs are rich in antioxidants and fiber.

They also have more calcium than other dried fruits. In fact, dried figs provide 5% of the DV for calcium in a 1.4-ounce (40-gram) serving (49Trusted Source).

Moreover, figs provide a good amount of potassium and vitamin K, two micronutrients that are essential for bone health (50Trusted Source, 51Trusted Source).

SummaryDried figs contain more calcium than other dried fruits. A 1.4-ounce (40-gram) serving has 5% of your daily needs for this mineral.

15. Milk

Milk is one of the best and most widely available sources of calcium available.

One cup (237 mL) of cow’s milk has 306–325 mg, depending on whether it’s whole or nonfat milk. The calcium in dairy is also absorbed very well (52Trusted Source, 53Trusted Source).

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) (54Trusted SourceTrusted Source).

SummaryMilk is a great source of calcium, which is well absorbed by the body. One cup (237 mL) of milk provides 24–25% of the DV for this mineral.

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