Which foods are the top sources of calcium?
by Nick Rose, M.S., PCC Nutrition Educator
This article was originally published in February 2012
When asked to list calcium-rich foods, milk always gets the first shout-out as each 8-ounce glass contains 300 mg of calcium (30 percent of the daily recommendation). But most adults have a hard time listing other sources and an even harder time getting 1,000 mg of this essential mineral into their diets each day. Here are other good bets.
Greens — Green leafy vegetables such as kale, bok choy, and spinach all provide 150 to 250 mg of calcium per cup. Collard greens stand out with more than 350 mg per 1 cup serving. Greens also provide vitamin K, essential for bone mineralization. Cooking has no effect on the calcium levels in food.
Sesame, beans and other vegan sources — Sesame seeds are another reliable source of calcium (150 mg per tablespoon), making tahini a great choice. Black-eyed peas, soybeans (including tofu/tempeh) and white beans are calcium superstars in the bean group, providing 150 to 250 mg per cup of cooked beans.
Seafood — Some seafood also is rich in calcium, particularly canned fish because the bones are consumed. Canned sardines match the calcium in milk (300 mg per 3 oz serving). Crab, scallops and canned salmon each contain more than 100 mg per serving. Seafood also provides vitamin D, essential for proper calcium absorption.
Fortified foods — Foods fortified with calcium, including orange juice, milk alternatives, cereals and snack bars typically provide 250 mg per serving.
Supplements — It’s recommended that those who take calcium dietary supplements take no more than 500 mg at a time for best results, up to twice daily. Look for supplements made with calcium citrate or, ideally, a food-based supplement such as New Chapter’s algae-based calcium. For optimal absorption, take supplements with a meal and make sure you’re getting adequate vitamin D.
Help keep your bones strong and your heart healthy with these high-quality, calcium-rich foods and supplements.
Collard greens — Find organic collards in our produce department. Enjoy them braised or in Collard Green and Cabbage Slaw.
Tahini — Look for this popular ground sesame paste from Artisana, Woodstock Farms and Joyva.
Work it into a variety of dishes.
Canned sardines — Find sustainably caught sardines at PCC from Wild Planet and Crown Prince. Like anchovies, they’re an excellent source of omega-3 fats and a savory addition to salads and pasta or whipped into a spread for crackers.
Black-eyed peas — Add these tasty beans to your next soup or stew. Find them canned from Eden Foods or dried
in our bulk section. Find cooking instructions and recipe ideas in our Bulk database.
Supplements — Nick recommends the Bone Strength Take Care from New Chapter, a plant-based, whole-food calcium supplement with magnesium and vitamin D3. Find even more options in our health and body care section.