Best Dietary Sources of Calcium: Top 10 Calcium-Rich Foods

Best Dietary Sources of Calcium: Top 10 Calcium-Rich Foods

Calcium is probably best known for promoting strong, healthy teeth and bones; however, the body also uses calcium to help regulate blood pressure, clotting of blood, secretion of hormones and digestive enzymes, muscle contraction (including the heart), and for nervous system functioning.

Calcium also helps to prevent and/or treat certain ailments such as osteoporosis, hypoparathyroidism, premenstrual syndrome (PMS), high cholesterol, stroke, colon cancer, obesity, rickets, and insomnia.

According to the National Institutes of Health, the recommended daily intake of calcium for males and females is 1,300 milligrams for 9 to 18 year olds; 1,000 milligrams for 19 to 50 year olds, and 1,200 milligrams for 51 to 70 years old and older.

Foods High in Calcium

Calcium intake should come primarily from food sources. The ten best food sources of calcium are:

  • 1 cup plain, low-fat yogurt contains 415 mg
  • 1 cup fruit-flavored, low-fat yogurt contains 345 mg
  • 1/4 cup nonfat, dry milk contains 377 mg
  • 3 oz. canned sardines with bones contains 372 mg
  • 1 oz. calcium-fortified cereals with 1/2 cup milk contains 350 mg
  • 1 cup skim milk contains 302 mg
  • 2 calcium-fortified waffles contains 300 mg
  • 8 oz. orange juice or grapefruit juice contains 300 mg
  • 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese contains 338 mg
  • 1 oz. Swiss cheese contains 272 mg

Other excellent sources of calcium are: whole and 1 to 2% milks, Monterey Jack, mozzarella and cheddar cheeses, salmon, tofu (processed, with calcium), enriched farina, almonds, dried beans, and soybeans. Since dairy products such as whole milk and cheese are also high in fat in addition to calcium, it’s best to choose low-fat versions of dairy products, which still contain ample amounts of calcium.

Calcium Supplements

Women in the United States typically consume less than 500 milligrams of calcium per day through their diet. Inadequate calcium intake can lead to osteoporosis. To ensure adequate calcium intake, most women will benefit from taking a daily calcium supplement. Calcium supplements are best used by the body when taken in doses of 500 milligrams or less. To ensure maximum absorption, calcium supplements should be taken in two servings, with one serving taken in the morning and the other serving taken in the evening.

In order for the intestines to absorb calcium, vitamin D is necessary. Vitamin D is also found in many foods, but If taking calcium supplements, it’s a good idea to choose a calcium supplement that also contains vitamin D.

Categories: Diet, Health, Nutrition