Nutrition Articles

15 Ways to Boost Your Calcium Intake

Because 85% of Us Don't Get Enough...

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You’re careful about calories and fussy about fat. You crunch the numbers and keep track of your daily diet. But how conscious are you regarding calcium, the mineral that keeps both men and women strong and healthy? 

Calcium plays an important role in strengthening bones and teeth. But what many people don’t know is that it also helps muscles and nerves function properly. Calcium isn’t something that your body can manufacture itself, so it relies on your diet to meet its needs. 

Bones and teeth store about 99 percent of the calcium in the body, with the remaining one percent usually found in blood, muscles, and other bodily tissues and fluid. If your body isn’t getting enough calcium from the foods you eat, it will take the mineral out of your bones, essentially robbing them of some of their strength. A calcium deficiency can eventually lead to osteoporosis, which is the loss of bone mass. Because bones are continually repaired throughout your lifetime, it is essential to get enough calcium, no matter your age. Taking care of your bones now will aid you in later years. 

It is currently recommended that adults ages 18-50 consume about 1000 milligrams (mg) of calcium a day, while adults ages 51 or older need 1200 milligrams. (It is also worth noting that adequate consumption of vitamin D aids in the absorption of calcium.) 

The best sources of calcium are, of course, dairy foods. Just one cup of milk or yogurt contains 300 milligrams of calcium. Other good sources include cheese (200 mg. per ounce) and cottage cheese (77 mg. per 1/2 cup). Use caution with dairy products, however. While you can meet your calcium needs with three to four dairy servings per day, watch out for extra calories and fat. Often, these foods come in non-fat or low-fat varieties, many of which taste just as good as the full-fat versions yet still contain the same amount of calcium.

Green leafy vegetables are high in calcium, but low in calories. One cup of spinach contains almost 250 milligrams of calcium, while a cup of kale has almost 100 milligrams. Broccoli contains 80 milligrams, making it another healthy vegetable to include in your diet. Other excellent sources include canned sardines (325 mg per 3 oz), canned salmon (180 mg per 3 oz), nuts such as almonds, legumes like garbanzo beans or peas, and fortified tofu (130 mg per 1 cup). 

15 simple ways to increase your calcium consumption 
There are many easy ways to boost your calcium intake by sneaking these foods into your daily diet:
  1. Add beans to soups, chili, and pasta dishes.
  2. Grate low-fat cheese over soups and salads.
  3. Enjoy a smoothie made with yogurt .
  4. Use milk instead of water in soups, breads, sauces, or salad dressings.
  5. Add milk to tea or coffee in the morning.
  6. Try plain yogurt as a vegetable dip.
  7. Stir some nuts into a yogurt cup as a snack.
  8. Include leafy vegetables in baked casseroles such as lasagna.
  9. Buy juices and cereals fortified with calcium.
  10. Drink skim milk instead of soda at lunch.
  11. Eat hot oatmeal made with milk for breakfast.
  12. Snack on crunchy broccoli instead of potato chips.
  13. Substitute plain low-fat yogurt for recipes that call for sour cream.
  14. Treat yourself to pudding made with skim milk for dessert.
  15. Take a daily supplement, available in capsules or chewable tablets.

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Member Comments

  • I am surprised this article did not mention unsweetened almond milk. It is a better source of calcium than skim milk and lower in calories. It taste great over cereal and in some recipes.
  • TONEDUDE, the problem is that people have died from drinking raw, unpasteurized milk. It is therefore illegal to sell it in many places. Better to just avoid/reduce dairy all together and buy enzymes from a health food store, just in case. I agree wholeheartedly with what SADDHU1 wrote! Also, no other animals drink the milk of other species (except in life and death instances, and even then it's almost always only because of human intervention), and they don't drink milk at all after they're weaned.
  • TBOURBONNIE
    I didn't read all the comments but did see some discuss importance of magnesium and D3 for calcium absorption. Another key to proper absorption of calcium is Vitamin K2. At Dr. Mercola's site you will find the following article that clearly explains the synergy between Ca, Mg, D3 and K2. http://articles.m
    ercola.com/si
    tes/articles/
    archive/2012/
    12/16/vitamin-k2.aspx. But what it does not explain is that when you are getting enough calcium and your ratio of calcium to magnesium is 2:1, your BMs will be perfect: high volume, the perfect consistency and 2 to 3 times a day. Try it - it is such a blessing.
  • I was born in China but raised in U.S. I am 66 years old and have been lifting heavy weight for 50 years. I never ate any diary products in my adult years, and I don't have any problems with my muscle or bones. I do take a calcium/magnesium tablet (1000/500 mg) everyday. I also eat at least one can of sardine and eat wild salmon 3 times a week, plus tons of green vegetables. I think Americans would be much healthier if they cut out all diary products.
  • Not sure where some of you are getting your information about calcium from but you should check out U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Institute of Heath at PubMed.gov (PubMed comprises more than 25 million citations for biomedical literature from MEDLINE, life science journals, and online books. Citations may include links to full-text content from PubMed Central and publisher web sites) or MedlinePlus (MedlinePlus is the National Institutes of Health's Web site for patients and their families and friends. Produced by the National Library of Medicine, the world’s largest medical library, it brings you information about diseases, conditions, and wellness issues in language you can understand. MedlinePlus offers reliable, up-to-date health information, anytime, anywhere, for free.
  • Unless it is full fat dairy our bodies don't absorb calcium in our bones. If calcium is not in the proper ratio with other minerals (especially magnesium), it stays in our arteries, increasing risk of blocked veins.

    Why is Spark still promoting low-fat foods? That advice is so out-dated.
  • I regularly get too much calcium, often more than twice the recommended amount. Today alone, I'm over my calcium intake and I've only had breakfast.
  • FOXGLOVE999
    Milk is one of the few things we consume that's sole purpose is consumption. I am continually astounded with the amount of misinformation there is about milk.

    I am glad to see pudding listed. This is an often missed source.
  • I'm always sad to see dairy as the main source. A trace amount of dairy will kill me. It's hard to find a way to get my daily calcium amount. I was told (after over 25 years of using it) that my asthma meds caused problems with bones and am stuck with all these joint problems now. I'm struggling to get the needed calcium each day. I do take a supplement to help out but it's still hard. I was drinking a lot of almond milk which has plenty of calcium but I can't seem to find it locally as easily as I used to now.
  • Dairy products are NOT the way to add calcium. Due to its acidic nature and protein content, the calcium in milk is poorly absorbed. This is why Asian women in cultures that consume little, if any, milk have lower rates of osteoporosis than Western women who drink the most dairy. The spin doctors from the dairy industry make Big Tobacco execs look like amateurs! Another important point: Americans simply need to drink far less soda in order to uptake calcium better. But even when factors like soda consumption are controlled for, dairy is still linked to osteoporosis and fractures.
  • I would have like to see a description of how sodas and sugar and acidizing foods leach calcium and prevent uptake.
  • I have heard that adding milk to tea interferes with the absorbsion of tea's antioxidants.

    But LOVE all of the other tips
  • MCSURF
    Hannahfish, so glad you shared about the benifits of the Chia seeds. Thank you!

    Blessings!
  • MCSURF
    Just read where Chia Seeds have loads of calcium. Am adding them to my diet as soon as the order gets here!

    Blessings!
  • OMAYKI
    Having read articles in the past, and my mother's collection of nutrition books, I know that milk and other dairy products, while they do contain calcium, are not healthy. The calcium, cannot be absorbed in the body when it comes from dairy products. I do recommend green leaves, which are generally healthier (especially organic ones) and other vegetable sources.

About The Author

Liz Noelcke Liz Noelcke
Liz is a journalist who often writes about health and fitness topics.

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