Little-Known Calcium-Rich Sources of Food

Pam Flores @phflores Health Guide
  • To maintain healthy bones you need to provide them with enough calcium along with other bone-friendly vitamins and minerals.  According to the National Osteoporosis Foundation, you need to get 1,200 milligrams per day from all sources for women over 50; and men over the age of 50 should take 1,000 milligrams.  When calculating your calcium, be sure to include what you get from your diet.   If you are below the recommended daily allowance for calcium, from your diet, you can add supplements.  Dietary calcium is superior to supplemental sources and doesn’t have the side effects seen with calcium supplements. 

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    Here are some facts about calcium and how it's used in our bodies to keep our bones, organs, muscle and nerves working properly.


    Why is calcium so important for our bones?

    Calcium makes our bones dense and strong.  Our bones contain calcium phosphate and collagen which we can lose as we age.  The more calcium you lose the weaker your bones become, causing bone loss and weakness which can cause a fracture.  Fractures can occur in the spine, hip, wrist and pelvis, as well as other areas, if we don’t consume enough calcium to maintain bone strength.


    What types of calcium are there?

    Calcium citrate:  This type of calcium can be taken with or without food.  People with low stomach acid absorb calcium citrate easier than calcium carbonate.

    Calcium carbonate:  You need to take calcium carbonate with food.  Some antacids, such as Tums® and Rolaids® contain calcium carbonate.  If you take these over-the-counter antacids, be sure to add their calcium content to your total intake per day.


    Other forms of calcium that are available in supplements and fortified foods are: lactate, phosphate and gluconate.


    You shouldn’t take more than 500 milligrams of calcium per serving.  Absorption of calcium is optimal when taken at this dosage.  If your calcium supplement totals 1,000 milligrams, take half of it in two servings so you get the recommended 500 milligrams.  Fibers and oxalic acid (spinach and rhubarb) inhibit the absorption of calcium.


    List of calcium-rich foods

    • Collard greens

    1 cup

    350 milligrams (mg)

    • Blackstrap molasses

    2 tablespoons

    400 mg

    • Fortified non-dairy milk

    1 cup

    200-300 mg

    • Tempeh

    1 cup

    215 mg

    • Turnip greens

    1 cup

    250 mg

    • Hemp milk

    1 cup

    460 mg

    • Navy beans

    1 cup

    125 mg

    • Kale

    1 cup

    180 mg

    • Tahini

    2 tablespoons

    130 mg

    • Figs

    ½ cup

    120 mg

    • Amaranth

    1 cup

    275 mg



     Try some of the little-known options for calcium-rich foods above to keep your diet packed with the necessary nutrients you need to keep your body and bones on a healthy track.




    Office of Dietary Supplements. (March 19, 2013). Calcium Fact Sheet for Consumers.  Retrieved: 9-11-2014

Published On: September 11, 2014