Calcium is not only the most abundant mineral in the body but is also very important for your health. To help keep your calcium levels at a good level, you can eat dairy, as well as a number of other foods.
Dairy makes up much of your bones and teeth and plays a role in heart health, muscle function, and nerve signaling (
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 (
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 non-dairy.
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) (
Seeds also deliver protein and healthy fats. For example, chia seeds are rich in plant-based omega-3 fatty acids (
Sesame seeds contain 7% of the DV for calcium in 1 tablespoon (9 grams), plus other minerals, including copper, iron, and manganese (
Many 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.
Most cheeses are excellent sources of calcium. Parmesan cheese has the most, with 242 mg — or 19% of the DV — per ounce (28 grams) (
Softer cheeses tend to have less. For instance, 1 ounce (28 grams) of Brie only delivers 52 mg, or 4% of the DV (
As a bonus, your body absorbs the calcium in dairy products more easily than that from plant sources (
Cheese also delivers protein. Cottage cheese has 23 grams of protein per cup (
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. For example, one review of 31 studies suggests that increased dairy intake may be associated with a lower risk of heart disease (
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 (
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.
Parmesan 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.
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 (
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 (
Low fat yogurt may be even higher in calcium, with 34% of the DV in 1 cup (245 grams) (
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 (
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 (
Yogurt 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.
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% (
These oily fish also provide high quality protein and omega-3 fatty acids, which can support the health of your heart, brain, and skin (
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 (
Sardines 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%.
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) (
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) (
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 (
Beans 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.
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 (
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 (
Almonds 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.
Whey is a type of protein found in milk that has been well studied for its potential health benefits (
It’s also an excellent protein source and full of rapidly digested amino acids, which help promote muscle growth and recovery (
Interestingly, some studies have even linked whey-rich diets to increased weight loss and improved blood sugar management (
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 (
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.
Whey protein is an exceptionally healthy protein source and contains approximately 12% of the DV for calcium in each 1.2-ounce (33-gram) scoop.
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 (
Note that some varieties, such as spinach, are high in oxalates, which are naturally occurring compounds that bind to calcium and impair its absorption (
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.
Some 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.
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 (
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 (
Rhubarb is high in fiber, vitamin K, and other nutrients. It also contains calcium, although only a small amount is absorbed by the body.
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 (
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 (
Grain-based foods are often fortified with calcium, including some breakfast cereals, tortillas, breads, and crackers.
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 (
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 (
The 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).
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 (
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) (
Tofu 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%.
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 (
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) (
Nondairy 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%.
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 (
Moreover, figs provide a good amount of potassium and vitamin K, two micronutrients that are essential for bone health (
Dried figs contain more calcium than other dried fruits. A 1.4-ounce (40-gram) serving has 5% of your daily needs for this mineral.
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 (
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) (
Milk 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.
Calcium is an important mineral that plays a key role in many aspects of health.
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.
Just one thing
Try this today: Vitamin D is crucial for increasing the absorption of calcium in the body. If you’re not getting regular sun exposure, try taking a supplement or check out this article for some of the top food sources of vitamin D.