When dietary calcium needs change with age or pregnancy, high-calcium foods can quickly boost daily intakes. Individuals who simply wish to improve their nutritional profiles can also benefit more from food sources than from taking mineral supplements, according to the USDA. Its Dietary Guidelines for Americans emphasize the value of nutrient-dense foods, many of which inhabit the calcium category. Adults should shoot for the FDA’s 1,000 milligrams daily average, and get 200 milligrams to 300 milligrams more calcium content if over 50 or pregnant.
Milk and other dairy products represent a major high-calcium food source that many people rely on every day for vitamins A and D. The USDA cites yogurt as the leader in calcium content, with 452 milligrams in 1 cup of fat-free varieties.
One cup of milk contains as much as 305 milligrams, while dairy cheeses, such as Swiss, cheddar, provolone and cottage, have more than 200 milligrams in a 1-ounce serving. By selecting low-fat or nonfat dairy items, dieters can control their weight while getting adequate dietary calcium.
Like milk, calcium-enriched breads and cereals provide additional vitamins and minerals for truly nutrient-dense food sources. Some ready-to-eat cereals provide as much as 1,000 milligrams of calcium, or up to 100 percent of daily calcium values, as listed on the package nutrition facts. Adding milk only increases this value. The National Institutes of Health, or NIH, notes that some brands of commercial bread enrich their products, making a suggested serving of two slices of bread high in calcium.
For those who don’t drink milk or who like more variety, many beverages are fortified with dietary calcium. Convenient calcium food sources include enriched orange juice, with upwards of 200 milligrams in 6 ounces, depending on the brand, according to the NIH. Milk alternatives such as soy milk and rice and almond drinks compare with regular milk, containing up to 300 milligrams or more in calcium content.
Many leafy green vegetables offer great nutrient density, including large amounts of dietary calcium, as illustrated by the values reported by the USDA. Cooked collard greens, with 357 milligrams, and spinach, with 291 milligrams, provide the greatest calcium concentrations in just 1 cup. Similar calcium benefits come from eating kale, broccoli and turnip greens. Although spinach and other leafy greens are high in calcium, it is not easily absorbed by the body due to the high oxalate content of these foods. Oxalate binds with calcium and prevents its absorption. It also may be responsible for the formation of kidney stones, according to the Oxalosis and Hyperoxaluria Foundation.
Bones are calcium storage sites, so fish canned with edible bones contain a lot of calcium, the NIH relates. A 3-ounce serving of canned sardines has 325 milligrams, and a similar serving of canned pink salmon contains 181 milligrams of calcium.