Calcium-rich foods include cheese and yogurt, salmon, and dark, leafy greens.

By Kelly Vaughan
November 04, 2020
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Credit: Kate Sears

If you're looking for a way to boost your overall health, consider your daily intake of calcium. "Calcium is a necessary mineral for all humans as it plays a huge role in many functions of the body, particularly in bone and teeth health where about 99 percent of calcium lies," says Dalina Soto, MA, RDN, LDN. Here, nutritionists explain how much calcium adults need each day, as well as the most delicious ways to consume it.

How Much Calcium Do I Need?

For men and women between the ages of 19 and 30, the recommended daily amount of calcium is 1000mg per day. Once a woman turns 50, the recommended amount increases to 1200 mg per day. "I generally recommend my clients aim between 350-400mg of calcium intake during each meal (breakfast, lunch, and dinner), depending on their age to help them break up their daily calcium provisions into more manageable portions. This will enable them to meet their goal of 1000-1200mg per day more realistically," says Wintana Kiros of Reset Lifestyle.

If you're not sure whether or not you're consuming a healthy amount of calcium, request a blood test from your doctor, which will give you the most accurate results.

Foods That Contain Calcium

From starting your morning with a serving of full-fat yogurt or ending your day with grilled tofu and steamed green vegetables, there are so many delicious and unexpected ways to add calcium to your diet. "The important thing to remember is to consume a calcium source food that has anywhere between 350-400mg per meal. These sources should be foods you enjoy as well as honoring your culture and tradition, so it becomes sustainable," says Kiros.

Tofu

This popular plant-based protein is packed with calcium. Tofu, when fortified with calcium sulfate or lactate, containers 215mg of calcium per ¼ cup serving (unfortified tofu only contains 10mg of calcium). Read the list of ingredients on a package of tofu to see if it contains added vitamins. Wondering how to work tofu into your diet? Try our Soba-Noodle Bowl with Tofu or Tofu with Ginger-Cilantro Sauce.

Bony Fish

Salmon, sardines, and anchovies are three types of seafood that contain lots of calcium. Three ounces of salmon (fresh or canned) contain approximately 181mg of calcium and sardines contain approximately 325mg of calcium. Enjoy a healthy dose of calcium in this Wild Salmon and Romanesco Pilaf or our Crunchy Panko Salmon, which you can serve alongside stone-ground corn polenta, which also happens to have lots of calcium (especially when mixed with cheese).

Dairy

Dairy has long been touted as the best source of calcium for both adolescents and adults. "There's good research that shows when people consume full-fat yogurt as part of a healthy, balanced diet, it provides protein and calcium and leaves them feeling good," says nutritionist Maya Feller MS, RD, CDN. Dairy products contain anywhere between 300mg and 415mg of calcium per serving, depending on the product. One-half cup of part-skim ricotta cheese contains 335mg of calcium, one ounce of mozzarella and cheddar cheese contain 205mg of calcium, and one ounce of pepper jack and Swiss cheese contains 220mg of calcium. One cup of nonfat milk contains 305mg of calcium and for those wishing to get in the holiday spirit, one cup of non-alcoholic eggnog contains 330mg of calcium.

Dark Green Vegetables

Soto says that broccoli and kale are two of the most calcium-rich vegetables. One-half cup of raw broccoli contains approximately 24mg of calcium and one cup of raw kale contains 90mg of calcium. Dark, leafy greens such as one-half cup of raw spinach and one-half cup of collard greens contain 135mg of calcium. Consuming these foods is great for vegans or anyone who has a dairy allergy and otherwise has limited sources for calcium. "You can absolutely get calcium from your leafy greens, but I would double or triple the serving and add melted cheddar cheese on top to get an adequate amount of calcium," says Feller.

Breakfast Foods That Contain Calcium

Looking for a healthy dose of calcium first thing in the morning? Cozy up with a bowl of oatmeal, which contains 85mg of calcium or cream of wheat, which contains 60mg per one-half cup serving. Boost either with chia seeds; one tablespoon has approximately six percent of the daily recommended value of calcium. One whole egg contains 25mg of calcium so make a three-egg omelet with cheese and spinach for a calcium-rich meal.

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