The 10 Best Sources of Calcium – Food, Supplements

Do you know that calcium is a nutrient which every living organism needs, including humans?

This is the most abundant mineral in our body that’s a necessary source for optimal bone health.

Why do we need it so much? – Because it helps us build and keep our bones strong and 99 percent of this nutrient is in our teeth and bones. [1]

It plays a role in other bodily functions too, including muscle movement, heart function, and communication between the brain and other body parts.

Our guide will help you learn more about:

  • Which foods are rich in calcium
  • Beneficial calcium supplements
  • How to get calcium in the right way

We can acquire this nutrient from a variety of foods naturally or through certain foods in which it has been added, as well as through supplements.

To ensure optimal absorption, we also need vitamin D that is present in some foods like fish oil and in the sunrays. [2]

However, since our body doesn’t produce this mineral on its own, we need to consume it regularly and in adequate amounts!

Not meeting the RDA can increase our risk of calcium deficiency!

Continue reading to check out the best food sources of calcium, as well as supplements if you’ve been diagnosed with this mineral deficiency.

Best Calcium Sources, Foods & Supplements

1. Cheese

Cheese is a great dairy source of calcium, with parmesan having the highest amount or 331 mg per 28 grams. [3]

Cheese that’s softer has less of it- for example; an ounce of brie only has 52 mg.

Anyway, your body has easier time absorbing calcium from dairy than from other sources like plants.

  • Most cheeses are great source of calcium
  • Parmesan is the richest in calcium
  • Softer cheeses have less calcium

Also, you get other important nutrients from cheeses like protein.

But, as full fat cheese is rich in calories and fat, as well as sodium, you need to be cautious not to overeat it. This is especially important in case you have a higher BMI and you need or want to shed pounds!

2. Yogurt

Without doubt, yogurt is another great dairy source of calcium. Moreover, a lot of yogurts have live probiotic bacteria that are known for their numerous health benefits.

With only one cup of yogurt, you get 30 percent of the recommended daily intake, but other important nutrients too like potassium, phosphorus, and vitamins B2 and B12. [4]

  • Yogurt is a healthy dairy source of calcium
  • Contains good bacteria
  • Rich in other important nutrients

Yogurts that are low in fat can have a higher amount of this important mineral or 45 percent of the RDI per a cup. Being low in fat, they’re a good choice for people with a higher BMI as well.

Regular yogurt consumption was also associated with a more quality diet and metabolism.

Plus, the people who consumed it had reduced risk of health problems like cardiovascular disease and type 2 diabetes.

3. Milk

Without doubt, milk remains one of the best and least expensive sources of calcium. [5]

From a cup of cow’s milk, you get around 280 to 350 mg of this pivotal nutrient. And, when you get it from this source, the body can absorb it better than from some plant sources.

But, drinking milk has other beneficial nutrients to offer, including vitamins A and D and protein.

  • Milk is an inexpensive source
  • Great absorption rate
  • Rich in other important nutrients

In addition to cow milk, goat milk is also a good calcium source and will supply you with around 330 mg per one cup!

Milk and other dairy sources of calcium may not be a viable choice for some people, for example, those with lactose intolerance.

4. Seeds

Seeds are abundant in a variety of nutrients, including calcium. The seeds with the highest amounts are sesame, celery, poppy, and chia seeds.

But, this isn’t the only nutrient you’ll get from consuming seeds regularly- they also contain healthy fats and protein which is good if you have higher BMI and want to lose weight. [6]

  • Tasty source of calcium
  • Rich in other nutrients
  • Easily added to any diet

One tbsp of sesame seeds will supply you with 9 percent of the RDI, as well as other minerals.

They’re one of the easiest sources to implement to your diet and lower your risk of calcium deficiency.

Mix them with yogurt or kefir, add them to morning smoothies and oatmeal, combine them with salads, etc.

5. Lentils & beans

These plant foods are a good source of protein, fiber, and micronutrients.

They supply us with folate, magnesium, zinc, potassium, and iron. Some types also have good amounts of calcium!

Winged beans will give you the most one cup has 244 mg or 24 percent of the RDI. [7]

Another good source is white beans-one cup will provide you with 13 percent of the RDI.

  • Beans & lentils are rich in calcium
  • They’re also rich in other nutrients
  • May help reduce the risk of some diseases

The other types have less and range between 4 to 6 percent of RDI per one cup.

Beans and lentils are often praised for being one of the major reasons why plant-based diets are nutritious and healthy.

According to research, beans may help lower bad cholesterol and decrease the chances for type 2 diabetes.

6. Leafy greens

Dark leafy green veggies are very healthy and some of them are great sources of calcium too.

Some of the best ways to acquire it through leafy greens is to eat more kale, spinach, and collard greens. [8]

For example, if you eat a cup of collard greens, you’ll get ¼ of the amount of this mineral you need on a daily basis.

  • Some dark leafy green veggies are rich in calcium
  • Best sources are collard greens, kale, and spinach
  • Oxalate may reduce its absorbability

However, you should know that some of these veggies are rich in oxalates-natural compounds which attach to calcium and reduce its availability to the body.

One dark leafy green veggie like this is spinach.

So, although you can eat it to get this vital nutrient, it’s considered less absorbable than the one with lower oxalate levels such as kale or collard greens.

7. Tofu & edamame

½ cup of tofu made with calcium will supply you with an amazing 86 percent of the RDI. Traditional tofu has around 176 mg of this mineral per 100 grams. [9]

  • Tofu & edamame are plant-based calcium sources
  • Tofu can be made with added calcium
  • Great for people on a plant-based diet

Edamame will help you meet 10 percent of the RDI per a cup. This food is actually young soybeans that are sold while still in their pod.

Tofu is a food which is made from condensed soy milk and pressed into white sturdy blocks.

The soybeans are cooked down to a liquid state before nigari, a by-product of salt extraction from seawater, is added.

Interestingly, tofu is a complete protein- it has all the amino acids our body can’t produce, making it a great plant-based source of protein.

8. Almonds

From all nuts, almonds are the richest in calcium and from an ounce; you supply your body with 8 percent of the recommended daily intake. [10]

What’s more, when you eat almonds, you get 3 grams of fiber per an ounce and protein and good fats, as well as vitamin E, manganese, and magnesium.

  • Almonds are great source of calcium
  • Best when eaten with the skin on
  • Numerous health benefits to offer

Almonds are also helpful in reducing the blood pressure, body fat, and risk of metabolic illness.

Moreover, they can help you keep the sugar levels balanced and prevent spikes-great for people with diabetes.

With regular consumption of almonds, you boost the presence of antioxidants in your body, particularly when you eat them with the skin on.

Their skin has flavonoids and the inside part has vitamin E.

9. Salmon from cans & sardines

Because of their edible bones, sardines and canned salmon are another awesome source of calcium. [11]

90 grams of sardines will offer you 35 percent of the RDI while 85 grams of canned salmon supplies you with 21 percent of the needed daily amount.

These two oily fish will also nourish your body with other vital nutrients such as protein and omega 3s that are beneficial for the brain, skin, and heart.

They’re also good for people who have higher BMI and plan to lose weight.

  • Sardines & canned salmon are rich in calcium
  • They have other important nutrients
  • Contain selenium that averts mercury toxicity

If you’re concerned about mercury presence in seafood, you should know that smaller fish like sardines have lower levels of it.

Plus, both of these fish are rich in selenium which is known to avert and reverse mercury toxicity.

10. Calcium supplements

These supplements are made with several types of compounds. Each of these compounds has a different amount of the mineral that’s known as elemental calcium.

It’s best to take them if they’ve been recommended by your physician!

  • Calcium supplements come in different types
  • Available in different forms
  • Often combined with other vitamins or minerals

You can find them labelled as calcium carbonate, calcium citrate, calcium gluconate, and calcium lactate.

The first one is the least expensive and a good first choice. Many of these supplements are also available mixed with vitamins or other minerals, including vitamin D or magnesium.

If you decide to add this supplement to your diet, you need to consider two things- the amount of calcium in it and its tolerability. [12]

Final Thoughts

Calcium is a pivotal nutrient for our health and we have it in our body more than any other minerals.

The best way to acquire the appropriate amounts is through eating foods that contain it, both dairy and non-dairy sources.

In some cases, supplements may also be necessary- for example, if you’ve been diagnosed with a deficiency.

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