7 Food Groups Rich In Calcium That Will Boost Your Health

Reviewed by Dr. Abby Kramer, DC
Written by Swathi Handoo, MSc (Biotechnology), Professional Certificate In Food, Nutrition & Health

Including foods rich in calcium in your diet not only makes your bones stronger but also helps in muscle contraction and relaxation while you exercise. It also helps in reflex signaling and many other vital functions of the body.

The foods listed in the article below are loaded with calcium. Choose your favorites from them and boost your calcium levels. Scroll down to check them out!

Why Do You Need Calcium?

Calcium sustains the entire skeletal system and muscles, supports the functioning of the nervous system, and is an essential component of the circulatory system (1).

Without it, fat-soluble nutrients like vitamins A, D, E, and K do not get assimilated in your body. This imbalance can trigger a chain of disorders and deficiencies (1).

Read on to find a list of calcium-rich food groups.

7 Food Groups That Are Rich In Calcium

1. Vegetables

VegetableServing SizeCalcium Content (in mg)
Collard greens, cooked½  cup178
Wasabi1 cup166
Spinach½ cup146
Turnip greens, fresh, cooked½ cup124
Kale, fresh, cooked1 cup94
Okra, cooked½ cup88
Beet greens, cooked½ cup82
Chinese cabbage (bok choy)1 cup79
Broccoli1 cup42.8
Cabbages1 cup35.6
Horseradish1 cup30
Radish1 cup29.0
Cauliflower1 cup22.0

Source: (1), (2)

2. Fruits, Juices, And Dried Fruits

FruitServing SizeCalcium Content (in mg)
Orange juice (fortified with calcium and vitamin-D)100 g201
Rhubarb, frozen, uncooked100 g194
Figs (dried)100 g162
Curranta, zante, dried100 g86
Prunes, dehydrated, uncooked10072
Oranges with peel10070
Dates, medjool10064
Apricots, dried, uncooked10055
Raisins, seedless10050
Mulberries10039
Elderberries10038
Jackfruit10034
Lychees, dried10033
Blackberries10029
Kiwifruit10026
Raspberries10025
Papayas10024

Source: (3)

3. Dairy And Milk Products

Dairy/Milk ProductServing SizeCalcium Content (in mg)
Whey, sweet, dried100 g796
Romano cheese1.5 oz452
Yogurt, plain, low-fat8 oz.415
Swiss cheese1.5 oz.336
Mozzarella1.5 oz333
Cheddar cheese1.5 oz.307
Milk, non-fat8 oz.299
Buttermilk, low-fat8 oz.284
Whole milk (3.25% fat)8 oz.276
Feta cheese1.5 oz210
Cottage cheese, 1% milkfat1 cup138
Frozen yogurt, vanilla½ cup103
Ice cream, vanilla,½ cup84
Sour cream, reduced fat2 tablespoons31
Cream cheese, regular1 tablespoon14

Source: (1), (2), (3)

4. Legumes, Legume Products, And Lentils

Legume/LentilServing SizeCalcium Content (in mg)
Winged beans, mature100 g440
Soymilk, calcium- fortified8 oz.299
Tofu, firm, with calcium sulfate½ cup253
Tofu, soft, with calcium sulfate½ cup138
Soy meal, defatted, raw100 g244
White beans, mature100 g240
Natto100 g217
Kidney beans, red, mature100 g195
Soy flour, full-fat roasted100 g188
Soybeans, green, cooked½ cup130
Cowpeas, cooked½ cup106
White beans, canned½ cup96
Soybeans, mature, cooked½ cup88
Adzuki beans, mature100 g66
French beans, mature100 g63
Yellow beans, mature100 g62
Baked beans, home-made100 g61
Miso100 g57
Lentils, raw100 g56
Peanuts, boiled, salted100 g55
Split peas, mature100 g55
Mung beans, mature, cooked,100 g53
Fava beans, mature, cooked100 g36

Source: (2),(3)

5. Nuts And Seeds

Nuts/SeedsServing SizeCalcium Content (in mg)
Sesame seeds, whole, dried100g975
Chia seeds, dried100g631
Almonds100g264
Flaxseeds100g255
Lotus seeds, dried100g163
Brazil nuts, dried, unblanched100g160
Hazelnuts or filberts100g114
Pistachios, raw100g107
Walnuts, English100g98
Sunflower seed kernels100g78
Pecans, dry roasted100g72
Pumpkin seeds, dry roasted100g55
Cashew nuts, raw100g37
Chestnuts (Japanese), dried100g31
Coconut meat, desiccated100g26
Pine nuts, dried100g8

Source: (5)

6. Fish, Egg, And Meat Products

Fish/Egg/Meat ProductServing SizeCalcium Content (in mg)
Beef, variety meats, raw100 g485
Sardines, canned in oil with bones3 oz.325
Pork, fresh, variety meats, raw100 g315
Caviar, black and red100 g275
Mature hens, raw, deboned100 g187
Salmon, pink, canned, with bones3 oz.181
Lamb, variety meats, raw100g162
Shrimp, canned100g145
Turkey, deboned, raw100g145
Ocean perch, Atlantic, cooked3 oz116
Pacific Herring, cooked, dry heat100 g106
Blue crab, canned3 oz86
Clams, canned3 oz78
Rainbow trout, farmed, cooked3 oz73
Lobster, cooked100 g61
Duck, meat and skin, raw100 g11

Source: (1), (2), (6), (7), (8), (9), (10)

7. Breakfast Cereals, Grains, And Pasta

Cereal/Grain/PastaServing SizeCalcium Content (in mg)
Ready-to-eat cereal, calcium-fortified1 cup100-1000
Oatmeal, plain and flavored, instant, fortified1 packet prepared99-110
Bread, white1 slice73
Chocolate pudding, ready-to-eat, refrigerated 4 oz.55
Bread, whole-wheat1 slice30
All-purpose wheat flour, enriched100 g338
Teff, uncooked100 g180
Amaranth, uncooked100 g159
Corn flour, enriched100 g141
Wheat bran, crude100 g73
White rice, parboiled100 g55
Oats100 g54
Quinoa, uncooked100 g47
Buckwheat flour100 g41
Macaroni, whole-wheat100 g40
Brown rice, raw100 g33
Spaghetti, dry100 g21

Source: (1), (2), (11)

That was our exclusive list of calcium-rich foods. All you need to do is pick a few items from these lists and cook up a calcium-rich storm.

Before you get to work, it is important to know how much calcium you need. Check the next section for these details.

How Much Of Calcium Do You Need?

The requirements change with age and sex.

AgeMaleFemalePregnantLactating
0–6 months*200 mg200 mg
7–12 months*260 mg260 mg
1–3 years700 mg700 mg
4–8 years1,000 mg1,000 mg
9–13 years1,300 mg1,300 mg
14–18 years1,300 mg1,300 mg1,300 mg1,300 mg
19–50 years1,000 mg1,000 mg1,000 mg1,000 mg
51–70 years1,000 mg1,200 mg
71+ years1,200 mg1,200 mg

An average adult woman (19-50 years) has to take 1,000 mg of calcium daily. Girls (14-18 years) need a higher intake of 1,300 mg, and older, post-menopausal women need about 1,200 mg of calcium per day (1).

The tolerable upper intake levels (UL) of a supplement are the highest amount that most people can take safely. For calcium, it looks something like this:

AgeUL
Infants
0-12 monthsNot possible to establish
Children and adolescents
1-3 yr2,500 mg/day
4-8 yr2,500 mg/day
9-13 yr2,500 mg/day
14-18 yr2,500 mg/day
Adults 19+ yr
Men2,500 mg/day
Women2,500 mg/day
Pregnancy
14-18 yr2,500 mg/day
19-50 yr2,500 mg/day
Lactation
14-18 yr2,500 mg/day
19-50 yr2,500 mg/day

But what if these components are unavailable/insufficient to meet the daily intake mark? What happens when you have calcium deficiency?

What Happens If There Is Too Less Calcium?

Calcium deficiency would trigger a multi-functional setback, given its critical role in the metabolism and maintenance of your body. Following are the symptoms of calcium deficiency or hypocalcemia (12):

  • Numbness of fingertips and toes
  • Muscle cramps
  • Convulsions
  • Lethargy
  • Poor appetite
  • Arrhythmia
  • Rickets (if coupled with vitamin D deficiency)
  • Random neuromuscular irritability
  • Chronic renal failure
  • Pancreatitis
  • Cardiovascular diseases, and in worst cases
  • Death

To avoid such repercussions, it is best to have a balanced diet rich in calcium as well. Despite taking measures, if you are diagnosed with hypocalcemia, healthcare providers may prescribe calcium supplements.

Calcium supplements are synthetic formulations of calcium compounds. Most of these are safe for human consumption.

But we strongly recommend you to use them only under medical supervision.

Calcium Supplements You Can Trust

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  1. Calcium Carbonate: Most quickly absorbed in the body. It is available in the form of capsules, liquids, powder, and over-the-counter tablets.
  2. Calcium Citrate: A more expensive form of calcium. It is absorbed well on an empty or full stomach.
  3. Other Sources: Calcium gluconate, calcium lactate, calcium phosphate, calcium acetate, calcium citrate malate, calcium lactogluconate, tricalcium phosphate, etc. with multivitamin-mineral supplements are available (13).

Check the product authenticity symbols, serving size, instructions to use, and the recommended dosage before choosing the right supplement.

Above all, use them only on medical consent.

Calcium is essential for the body to ensure skeletal and muscle health and the proper functioning of the circulatory and nervous systems. Hence, calcium-rich foods must be a part of your regular diet. These include vegetables, dairy products, legumes, lentils, nuts, seeds, fruits, dry fruits, fish, meat products, eggs, cereals, and grains. The requirement of this mineral is the most important for children, teens, and pregnant women, who should consume 1300 mg of calcium per day. Insufficient calcium levels in the body could manifest in the form of muscle cramps, convulsions, poor appetite, and chronic renal failure. So, consult your doctor immediately if you experience any of these symptoms.

Frequently Asked Questions

How much calcium can your body absorb at a time?

Your body can take up about 500 mg of calcium at a time. Although the daily requirement is approximately 1000-1200 mg, it is better to split the total into small doses of 500 mg across the day. This would ensure maximum absorption of calcium.

How do you determine the levels of calcium in your body?

Levels of calcium in your body can be determined by taking a simple blood test. It can help you diagnose calcium deficiency or calcium excess. The result indicates the amount of calcium circulating freely in the blood, but not that stored in bones.

The reference range for calcium in adults is 8.6 mg/dL to 10.2 mg/dL, and for children, it varies from lab to lab.

Sources

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Dr. Abby Kramer

(DC)
Dr. Kramer is a Chiropractor + Holistic Physician practicing in the Chicagoland area. She has been featured in various publications,... more

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