5 Calcium-Rich Foods to Add to Your Diet
As the most abundant mineral in your body, calcium is extremely important to the body. Calcium greatly contributes to bone health, as well as muscle function, nerve function, blood clotting, blood pressure, and hormone secretion. A lack of calcium can lead to health issues such as osteoporosis, a condition that weakens the bones. Because your body does not produce calcium on its own — hence its status as an “essential nutrient” — you need to consume it through food or supplements to procure the necessary amount of calcium.
Calcium remains a “nutrient of concern” per the FDA, as the average American does not consume enough calcium, partly due to its reduced absorption when paired with different nutrients and partly because of a shift away from dairy milks in favor of alternative “milks.” Despite this, many multivitamin supplements omit calcium altogether due to its weight.
When formulating our program, we insisted on including calcium to fill in any nutrient gaps left by your diet. That said, we are food first dietitians and recommend that people eat healthy, whole foods to help them get naturally occurring nutrients — supplements are intended to be supplemental!
We are food-first dietitians, believing that a healthy diet comes before any supplementation — eating the right, calcium-abundant foods will benefit your health more than a supplement can.
Here are a handful of foods to increase your calcium intake. These foods contain vitamins, fiber, minerals, and other necessary nutrients that benefit your overall health:
Seeds, such as poppy seeds, sesame seeds, and chia seeds. Specifically, 1 tablespoon of poppy seeds contains 10% of the recommended daily value of calcium, and it’s a great option for vegetarian and vegan consumers.
Cheese contains calcium, as well as lots of protein. One ounce of parmesan cheese contains 19% of the recommended daily value of calcium (just beware of your fat and salt intake).
Yogurt provides up to 34% of the daily value in one cup, as well as lots of protein. Yogurt is also rich in probiotics which are also beneficial, as they promote immune function, improve heart health, and enhance nutrient absorption.
Milk is yet another dairy product that serves as a great source of calcium as the calcium in milk is very well-absorbed by the body. One cup of milk contains ~25% of the daily value for calcium, making it a very strong addition to your diet.
Finally, a fifth-most calcium-abundant food is leafy green vegetables. One caveat is that many leafy greens also contain high amounts of oxalates, which can inhibit calcium absorption. You’ll want to opt for greens like arugula, romaine, kale, cabbage and bok choy, as opposed to high-oxalate leafy greens like collard greens, kale, and spinach. Leafy greens can pack up to 21% of the daily recommended value of calcium into one cup.
With a wholesome diet that includes the foods mentioned previously, your calcium intake should be enough. But it’s always helpful to have a healthy foundation from your supplement. For optimal absorption, the maximum supplemental calcium intake at a time is 500 mg, which is why First and Foremost splits your calcium intake into three different times of day, never exceeding 500mg — we provide calcium carbonate in the morning and afternoon and calcium citrate in the evening.
Our highly bioavailable program helps your body absorb the right nutrients at the right time to help you stay healthy — and for us, that always includes calcium.