Calcium is very important for your health.
In fact, 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 (1).
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.
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 RDI (2).
Sesame seeds have 9% of the RDI for calcium in 1 tablespoon (9 grams), plus other minerals, including copper, iron and manganese (4).
Summary Many seeds are good sources of calcium. For instance, 1 tablespoon (9 grams) of poppy seeds has 13% of the RDI, while the same serving of sesame seeds packs 9% of the RDI.
Most cheeses are excellent sources of calcium. Parmesan cheese has the most, with 331 mg — or 33% of the RDI — per ounce (28 grams) (5).
As an added bonus, your body absorbs the calcium in dairy products more easily than that from plant sources.
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 (8).
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 (9).
However, keep in mind that full-fat cheese is also high in fat and calories. Most cheeses also contain a lot of sodium, to which some people are sensitive.
Summary Parmesan cheese packs 33% of the RDI for calcium, while other types deliver 5–2%. Despite being high in fat and calories, cheese may lower your risk of heart disease.
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 RDI for calcium, as well as phosphorus, potassium and vitamins B2 and B12 (10).
Low-fat yogurt may be even higher in calcium, with 45% of the RDI in one cup (245 grams) (11).
While Greek yogurt is a great way to get extra protein in your diet, it delivers less calcium than regular yogurt (12).
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 (13).
Summary Yogurt is one of the best sources of calcium, providing 30% of the RDI in one cup (245 grams). It's also a good source of protein and other nutrients.
Sardines and canned salmon are loaded with calcium, thanks to their edible bones.
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 (18).
Summary Sardines and canned salmon are exceptionally healthy choices. A can of sardines gives you 35% of the RDI for calcium, while 3 ounces (85 grams) of canned salmon packs 21%.
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 RDI for calcium (19).
White beans are also a good source, with one cup (179 grams) of cooked white beans providing 13% of the RDI. Other varieties of beans and lentils have less, ranging from around 4–6% of the RDI per cup (20, 21, 22).
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 (23).
Summary Beans are highly nutritious. One cup (172 grams) of cooked wing beans delivers 24% of the RDI for calcium, while other varieties provide around 4–13% for the same serving size.
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.
Summary Almonds are high in nutrients like healthy fats, protein, magnesium and others. One ounce, or 22 nuts, delivers 8% of the RDI for calcium.
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 (26).
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 RDI (27).
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Summary Whey protein is an exceptionally healthy protein source and one scoop of whey protein powder has 20% of the RDI for calcium.
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 (28).
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.
Rhubarb has a lot of fiber, vitamin K, calcium and smaller amounts of other vitamins and minerals.
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 (31).
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.
Another way to obtain calcium is from fortified foods.
Some types of cereal can deliver up to 1,000 mg (100% of the RDI) 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 (32).
Flour and cornmeal may also be fortified with calcium. This is why some breads, tortillas and crackers contain high amounts.
Summary Grain-based foods may be fortified with calcium. Read the label to find out how much of this mineral fortified foods contain.
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 RDI (33).
Amaranth leaves contain even more — 28% of the RDI per cooked cup (132 grams). The leaves are also very high in vitamins A and C (34).
Summary The seeds and leaves of amaranth are very nutritious. One cup (246 grams) of cooked amaranth grain provides 12% of the RDI for calcium, while the leaves pack 28% per cup (132 grams).
Edamame are young soybeans, often sold while still encased in the pod.
One cup (155 grams) of edamame packs 10% of the RDI for calcium. It's also a good source of protein and delivers all your daily folate in a single serving (35).
Summary Tofu and edamame are both rich in calcium. Just half a cup (126 grams) of tofu prepared with calcium has 86% of the RDI, while one cup (155 grams) of edamame packs 10%.
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 RDI.
Other types of nut- and seed-based milks may be fortified with even higher levels.
However, fortification isn't just for non-dairy milks. Orange juice can also be fortified, providing as much as 50% of the RDI per cup (237 ml) (38).
Summary Non-dairy milks and orange juice can be fortified with calcium. For example, one cup (237 ml) of fortified orange juice can have 50% of the RDI, while the same serving of fortified soy milk packs 30%.
Dried figs are rich in antioxidants and fiber.
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.
Milk is one of the best and cheapest calcium sources.
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) (42).
Summary Milk is a great source of well-absorbed calcium. One cup (237 ml) of milk provides 27–35% of the RDI for this mineral.
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.
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