Calcium is the most prevalent mineral in the human body. It plays an important role in maintaining good health. For example:
- Calcium is essential to build and maintain strong bones at all stages of life, and therefore help prevent and/or manage osteoporosis. Calcium may also help with weight loss. In addition, research suggests that calcium and vitamin D supplementation may help to optimize blood glucose metabolism.
- Calcium helps reduce your risk for these serious health conditions:
The recommended intakes for calcium are:
|7 months-1 year||260|
|Men 51-70 years||1,000|
|Men 71 years or older||1,200|
|Women 51 years and older||1,200|
|Pregnant and breastfeeding teens||1,300|
|Pregnant and breastfeeding adults||1,000|
Food Sources of Calcium
Dairy foods—milk, yogurt, and some cheeses—are the best dietary sources of calcium. These foods are also rich in vitamin D, which helps the body absorb calcium.
Amount of calcium
|Yogurt, plain low fat||1 cup||415|
|Milk, 2%||1 cup||293|
|Macaroni and cheese, frozen||1 package||323|
|Parmesan cheese, grated||1 tablespoon||55|
|Eggnog, nonalcoholic||1 cup||330|
|Chocolate milk, low fat||1 cup||290|
|Ricotta cheese, part skim||½ cup||335|
|Powdered milk||1/3 cup||283|
|Cheddar cheese||1 ounce||204|
|Swiss cheese||1 ounce||224|
|Provolone cheese||1 ounce||215|
|Cheese pizza||1 serving||113|
|Mozzarella cheese, part skim||1 ounce||207|
|American cheese||1 ounce||193|
|Cottage cheese, low fat||1 cup||206|
|Frozen yogurt, soft serve||½ cup||103|
|Ice cream||½ cup||84|
Absorption of calcium from some other dietary sources is not as great as that from dairy foods. Specifically, dark green vegetables contain oxalates, and grains contain phytates, which can bind with calcium and decrease their absorption. However, these foods still provide a good way to add calcium to your diet. Some examples of green vegetables that are good calcium sources are kale, broccoli, and Chinese cabbage.
Read the Nutrition Facts label on tofu and fortified products to determine specific calcium levels of these foods.
Amount of calcium
|Carnation breakfast bars||1 packet||500|
|Tofu, regular, processed with calcium||½ cup||253|
|Calcium-fortified soy milk||1 cup||250-300|
|Salmon, canned with edible bones||3 ounces||181|
|Calcium-fortified orange juice||¾ cup||200|
|Calcium-fortified dry cereal||1 cup||100-1,000|
|Blackstrap molasses||1 tablespoon||135|
|Pudding, ready to eat||½ cup||55|
|Dried figs||1 cup||300|
|Tofu, regular, processed without calcium||½ cup||130|
|Sardines with edible bones, in oil||3 ounces||325|
|Turnip greens, boiled||½ cup||100|
|Milk chocolate bar||1.5 ounces||85|
|Okra, boiled||1 cup||100|
|Kale, boiled||½ cup||61|
|Mustard greens, boiled||1 cup||40|
|Pinto beans, cooked||½ cup||45|
Tips for Increasing Your Calcium Intake
- When making oatmeal or other hot cereal, use milk instead of water.
- Add powdered milk to hot cereal, casseroles, baked goods, and other hot dishes.
- Make your own salad dressing by combining low-fat plain yogurt with herbs.
- Add tofu (processed with calcium) to soups and pasta sauce.
- If you like fish, eat canned fish, such as salmon or sardines, with soft bones on crackers or bread.
- For dessert, try low-fat frozen yogurt, ice cream, or pudding.
- In baked goods, replace half of the fat with plain yogurt.
Dealing with Lactose Intolerance
Some people have difficulty digesting lactose, which is the main sugar in milk and some dairy products. This occurs when the body does not produce enough of the enzyme lactase to properly digest lactose. People with this condition, called lactose