Getting your fair share of calcium is essential for healthy bones and teeth — in fact, 99 percent of the calcium in your body is stored in your teeth and bones, according to the U.S. National Library of Medicine (NLM).
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But the body also requires calcium for proper muscle and blood function, and the nutrient helps facilitate the release of enzymes and hormones, too.
How Much Calcium Do You Need Per Day?
The recommended daily intake of calcium is 1,000 milligrams and 1,200 milligrams for adults assigned male and adults assigned female at birth, respectively, per the National Institutes of Health (NIH). People ages 9 to 18 should get 1,300 milligrams per day.
People who are past menopause are more likely to experience bone loss than younger people due to the fact that their bodies have a more difficult time absorbing calcium, per the NIH. While they require the same amount of calcium per day as younger people, it's even more essential that they meet their daily requirements.
People of childbearing age with amenorrhea (period loss), those with lactose intolerance or those who are vegan or just cut out dairy from their diets should also be mindful of their calcium intake.
Good news: Calcium is found in plenty of different foods — both dairy and not. Here's a complete list of foods with the highest calcium levels to include in your daily diet. Note that the FDA calculates its Daily Value (DV) percentages based on eating 1,300 milligrams of calcium per day.
Non-Dairy Foods High in Calcium
1. Sardines: 44% Daily Value (DV)
Just 1 cup of the canned fish provides 569.2 milligrams or 44 percent of your DV of calcium as well as 37 grams of protein. They're also rich in omega-3 fatty acids, which support heart health, per the Mayo Clinic. Try the briny fish in these delicious sardine recipes.
2. Fortified Orange Juice: 27% DV
Yes, orange juice is particularly high in vitamin C, with 93 percent of your DV in 1 cup. But this calcium-enriched food also has 348.6 milligrams or 27 percent of your DV of calcium as brands often add the nutrient to the juice during manufacturing.
Make sure to check the label of your OJ to see if it's fortified with calcium.
Are There Any Fruits High in Calcium?
Also known as haricot beans, navy beans are an excellent source of many nutrients, including fiber, B vitamins and calcium. In fact, a 1-cup serving of cooked navy beans serves up 305.8 milligrams or 10 percent of your DV of calcium. They're delicious in soups, vegetarian or beef chilis and mashed into bean burgers.
4. Sesame Seeds: 22% DV
There are several types of seeds that are high in calcium, but sesame — the kind tahini is made of — tops the list. Just 1 ounce of toasted sesame seeds contains 280.9 milligrams or 22 percent of your DV. Sprinkle sesame seeds over salads or toast with avocado or peanut butter, or try them in these tahini recipes that aren't hummus.
5. Collard Greens: 21% DV
This vegetable packs a boatload of vitamins A, C, B6, iron and magnesium — and it just happens to be one of the best non-dairy foods high in calcium. One cup of cooked collard greens serves up 267.9 milligrams or 21 percent of your DV.
But note that oxalates in green leafy vegetables, like collard greens, can bind to calcium and inhibit it from being absorbed — but boiling or steaming the veggie can help reduce its oxalate content, per the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health. Try it in these antioxidant-rich recipes.
6. Soybeans: 20% DV
Soybeans are wonderfully nutritious and tend to be a go-to vegetarian food high in calcium. One cup of cooked green soybeans offers 261 milligrams or 21 percent of your DV. What's more, that same serving offers 22 grams of complete protein, which means it contains all nine essential amino acids for healthy muscles.
7. Fortified Firm Tofu: 19% DV
Tofu is one of the best vegan foods high in calcium with 253.3 milligrams or 19 percent of your DV in a 1/2 cup serving. If you want even more calcium, make sure to look at the nutrition facts label and ingredient list and pick a brand that has calcium sulfate added — most of the time, it'll contain over 100 percent of your DV.
Try the calcium-enriched food in these anything-but-bland tofu recipes.
8. Canned Salmon: 15% DV
You don't have to score salmon fresh to reap all of its nutritional benefits. Canned salmon, specifically the kind including the bones, is a food rich in calcium — packing 197.2 milligrams or 15 percent of your DV in a 3-ounce serving. You have to eat the bones to get the calcium.
9. Broccoli Rabe: 21% DV
The smaller, skinnier form of broccoli is a tad more bitter, but is loaded with calcium with 21 percent of your DV per cup cooked. In comparison, you'll get just 267.6 milligrams or 7 percent of your DV of calcium in broccoli that's cooked.
You can cook broccoli rabe quite similarly to how you would cook broccoli, and, in fact, it may be even easier to do so thanks to its thin stature.
10. Kale: 15% DV
Most leafy greens contain a fair share of calcium, but kale is a top contender. This crunchy, cruciferous vegetable contains 195 milligrams or 15 percent of your DV in 1 cup cooked.
11. Shrimp: 14% DV
This protein-packed seafood is quite nutritious and a wonderful source of protein, providing 26 grams per cooked cup. And canned shrimp is a high-calcium food, containing 185.6 milligrams or 14 percent of your DV.
12. Chia Seeds: 14% DV
These seeds might be tiny, but they pack a serious nutritional punch and offer up 179.2 milligrams or 14 percent of your DV of calcium in 1 ounce (about two tablespoons). Chia seeds make great additions to yogurts or smoothies thanks to their crunchy texture and high-fiber content.
13. Bok Choy: 12% DV
This cruciferous vegetable is popular in Asian cuisine and is loaded with myriad nutrients, including iron, phosphorus, magnesium, vitamin K and calcium, all of which play a crucial role in keeping bones strong. One cup of cooked bok choy contains 158.1 milligrams or 12 percent of your DV of calcium.
14. Almonds: 6% DV
These crunchy, snackable nuts are high in fiber, protein and healthy fat — and they're also one of our favorite plant-based foods high in calcium with 76 milligrams or 6 percent of your DV in 1 ounce. You can also enjoy the benefits of this sweet nut by buying a jar of almond butter.
Dairy Foods High in Calcium
15. Yogurt: 38% DV
Try to choose yogurts with no added sugar and toss in your own toppings, like fresh fruit, nuts and seeds for flavor.
16. Milk: 23% DV
One cup of low-fat or skim milk has 292.8 milligrams or 23 percent of your calcium DV (whole milk has slightly less, with 21 percent DV). Milk is fortified with both calcium and vitamin D during manufacturing.
If you don't drink dairy milk, look for a plant-based milk alternative that's fortified by checking nutrition labels for the calcium and vitamin D daily values.
17. Cheese: 17% DV
Most types of cheese are excellent sources of calcium — namely, hard cheeses such as Parmesan. Soft cheeses like ricotta and cream cheese have less calcium.
Note that most hard cheeses are very low in lactose and are often tolerated even by those people with lactose intolerance.