Including calcium-rich foods in your family’s daily diet helps ensure healthy bones and teeth in kids as well as prevent osteoporosis later in life. MedlinePlus recommends that children from 1 to 3 years of age consume 500 milligrams of calcium each day, while requirements increase to between 1000 milligrams and 1300 milligrams for teens and adults. Dairy products remain the highest nonfortified sources of calcium. Good choices for vegans and those with dairy allergies include beans, greens and calcium-fortified foods.
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Plain yogurt tops the list of all calcium-rich foods. An 8 ounce serving contains 452 milligrams of calcium. Low-fat fruit yogurts also rank fairly high, averaging 345 milligrams.
Cheeses are well represented on the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s list of top 25 calcium-rich dairy foods. Romano cheese ranks the highest, at 452 milligrams of calcium for 1.5 ounces. Other top choices, all delivering over 300 milligrams of calcium per serving, include pasteurized and processed American or Swiss cheese, part-skim ricotta, provolone, part-skim mozzarella, cheddar and Muenster cheeses. Feta, blue and whole-milk ricotta cheeses all contain more than 200 milligrams calcium per serving.
Fat-free milk provides the most calcium of the cow’s milk varieties, according to the USDA. It contains 306 milligrams of calcium per cup. One percent and 2 percent milk and low-fat chocolate milk also pack a calcium punch, at between 285 milligrams and 290 milligrams per cup. Whole milk and regular chocolate milk also make the list of top calcium dairy foods.
Calcium-fortified soy milk, also known as soy beverage, contains 368 milligrams of calcium and 98 calories per cup. If you dislike the taste as a drink but want to add it to your diet, use soy milk in place of regular milk in casseroles and baked goods and on cereals.
Sardines and salmon are each high in calcium. A 3 ounce portion of Atlantic sardines delivers 325 milligrams of calcium, while the same amount of pink salmon yields 181 milligrams. The same serving size of canned blue crab, canned clams and cooked rainbow trout also contains decent amounts of calcium, ranging from 73 milligrams to 86 milligrams.
Many green vegetables traditionally boiled, stir-fried or steamed are high in calcium. Top choices on the USDA list include collards, spinach, turnip greens, kale, okra, pak-choi and dandelion greens. They range from 178 milligrams of calcium per 1/2 cup for collards to 74 milligrams of calcium per 1/2 cup for dandelion greens.
Beans, which are high in protein, represent high-calcium food choices as well. The most calcium-rich beans include cooked green or mature soybeans, cooked cowpeas, and canned white beans. The calcium content ranges from 88 milligrams to 130 milligrams of calcium per 1/2 cup.
Oatmeal and Fortified Cereals
Calcium-fortified cereals, which usually come with the additional benefit of pairing with milk, present a smart choice for people finding it hard to fit enough calcium into their diets. According to the USDA, brands range from an impressive 236 milligrams to a staggering 1043 milligrams per 1 ounce serving, the latter delivering all the calcium needed for the day. Instant oatmeal also makes a calcium-rich choice, ranging from 99 milligrams to 110 milligrams of calcium per 1 ounce serving, depending on the variety.
Like other soy foods, tofu is high in calcium. One-half cup of firm tofu averages 253 milligrams of calcium, according to the USDA. Consider adding baked, stir-fried or mashed tofu to your recipes.
Blackstrap molasses is not only rich in iron and potassium, but it also contains significant amounts of calcium. Just 1 tablespoon contributes 172 milligrams of calcium to your diet. Use it in place of syrup on your oatmeal, or as a sweetener in desserts and baked bean dishes.