Nutrition

Calcium-Rich Foods to Add to Your Grocery List

4 min read

Which foods are high in calcium? We're counting down our favorite calcium-rich foods, including options for vegans and vegetarians.
Which foods are high in calcium? We're counting down our favorite calcium-rich foods, including options for vegans and vegetarians.

A cool fact about calcium: It’s the most abundant mineral in the body. In fact, 99% of our body’s calcium lives in our bones and teeth. (The other 1% helps out with other processes.)* (1)

Needless to say, calcium is kind of a big deal—and it’s definitely worth making sure you’re meeting your daily levels. The recommended intake for calcium for men over 18 and women ages 18-49 is 1,000 mg per day. (For women over 50, it’s 1,200 mg per day.) But here’s an important caveat: Despite its celebrity status, calcium may not always belong in a multivitamin. It’s definitely possible to get enough calcium through diet alone, and supplementing with more calcium on top of that isn’t necessarily the answer.

Instead, we like to focus on calcium “helper” nutrients in our multivitamins (like vitamin D3, vitamin K2, magnesium and boron)—nutrients that play an important role in helping support bone health, but may not always be as easy to get enough of through food alone.* (1)

So, how can you make sure you’re getting enough calcium on your plate every day? Start by adding some of these calcium-rich foods to your menu. (Spoiler: There are non-dairy options, too.)

5 great food sources of calcium

Yogurt

According to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), plain, low-fat yogurt is an excellent source of calcium. One 8-ounce container features 415 mg of calcium. Yogurt is also a good source of other essential nutrients, including protein. So it really ticks some boxes when it comes to nutrition—and better yet, it's very versatile. Add a parfait with fresh fruit to your breakfast rotation, or incorporate it into different recipes such as smoothies, baked goods, or dressings for extra thickness. Whichever way you enjoy your yogurt, be sure to check the ingredient label. Some store-bought yogurts tend to have high amounts of sugar per serving size.*(1,2)

Orange juice

One cup of calcium-fortified OJ contains 349 mg of calcium, making up 27% of the daily recommended value. And, of course, oranges are also a good source of vitamin C. Consider this a reminder to add them to your grocery list to elevate your weekday breakfasts and weekend brunches.* (1)

Milk

When most of us think of calcium, it’s probably safe to assume that milk is often the first thing that comes to mind. Let’s just say that our parents didn’t steer us wrong on this one: One cup of reduced-fat milk (2% milk fat) has 293 mg of calcium, or 23% of the daily value. It also features protein and vitamin A. Some fortified cereals are also high in calcium, so pairing them together for breakfast is an easy way to get this essential nutrient first thing in the morning. If you're a vegan or dairy products don't agree with you, no worries. Calcium-fortified soy or almond milk is another excellent option. *(1,3)

Sardines

If you’re looking to add some additional flavor and a calcium punch to salads or pastas, sardines might be the way to go: Just 3 ounces of these little fish contains 325 mg of calcium per serving.*(1)

Vegan-Friendly Sources of Calcium

Tofu

At 253 mg of calcium per ½ cup, firm tofu clocks in at 19% of the daily value. Pro tip: Enjoy it in a stir fry, or might we suggest these vegan breakfast tacos?* (1)

Chia seeds

Don’t let their size fool you: Chia seeds really pack a punch from a nutritional POV. One tablespoon of chia seeds contains 76 mg of calcium. The best part? You can get creative with how you eat them. Toss them into smoothies, salads, or strawberry lemonade. Or, make yourself some chia pudding: soak the seeds in your favorite nut milk, pop them in the refrigerator overnight, and wake up to a delicious breakfast. *(1,4)

Almonds

One ounce of almonds boasts an impressive 73 mg of calcium. Plus, you also reap the nutritional support for protein, fiber, magnesium, and vitamin E. Have a handful of almonds as a midday snack on their own. Or if you're a dairy consumer, they make a great, crunchy yogurt topping.* (1,5)

Kale

Kale fanatics, take note: Just one cup of the cooked leafy green has 94 mg of calcium. Saute some kale with garlic, eat it as a side with rice and veggies or make kale chips for snacking throughout the day.* (1)

References:

  1. "Office of Dietary Supplements - Calcium." NIH Office of Dietary Supplements, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Retrieved from National Institutes of Health
  2. FoodData Central Search Results. Non-Fat Yogurt Nutrition. Retrieved from USDA
  3. FoodData Central Search Results. Milk (2%) Nutrition. Retrieved from USDA
  4. FoodData Central Search Results. Chia Seeds Nutrition. Retrieved from USDA
  5. FoodData Central Search Results. Almonds Nutrition. Retrieved from USDA

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