How to Incorporate More Calcium Into Your Diet (Besides Dairy)
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. We asked nutritionists to recommend the most delicious ways to eat more calcium, along with ho much calcium adults need each day, and how to get calcium without dairy.
How Much Calcium Do I Need?
For men and women between the ages of 19 and 30, the recommended daily amount of calcium is 1000 milligrams per day. Once a woman turns 50, the recommended amount increases to 1200 milligrams per day. "I generally recommend my clients aim between 350 to 400 milligrams 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 to 1200 milligrams per day more realistically," says Wintana Kiros, RDN, LDN, a clinical dietitian at 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 to 400 milligrams per meal. These sources should be foods you enjoy as well as honoring your culture and tradition, so it becomes sustainable," says Kiros.
This popular plant-based protein is packed with calcium. Tofu, when fortified with calcium sulfate or lactate, contains 215 milligrams of calcium per ¼ cup serving (unfortified tofu only contains 10 milligrams 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.
Salmon, sardines, and anchovies are three types of seafood that contain lots of calcium. A small 3-ounce serving of salmon (fresh or canned) contains approximately 181 milligrams of calcium and sardines contain approximately 325 milligrams 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).
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 24 milligrams of calcium and 1 cup of raw kale contains 90 milligrams of calcium. Dark, leafy greens such as 1/2 cup of raw spinach and 1/2 cup of collard greens contain 135 milligrams 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 85 milligrams of calcium, or cream of wheat, which contains 60 milligrams per 1/2 cup serving. Boost either with chia seeds (1 tablespoon has approximately 6 percent of the daily recommended value of calcium). One whole egg contains 25 milligrams of calcium, so make a three-egg omelet with cheese and spinach for a calcium-rich meal.
We would be remiss if we didn't include dairy on this list, which 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 300 milligrams and 415 milligrams of calcium per serving, depending on the product. One-half cup of part-skim ricotta cheese contains 335 milligrams of calcium, 1 ounce of mozzarella and cheddar cheese contain 205 milligrams of calcium each, and 1 ounce of pepper jack and Swiss cheese contains 220 milligrams of calcium. One cup of nonfat milk contains 305 milligrams of calcium—and for those who enjoy getting into the holiday spirit, 1 cup of non-alcoholic eggnog contains 330 milligrams of calcium.