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).
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?
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), folks 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 high in calcium 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.
1. Sardines: 569.2 mg, 44% Daily Value (DV)
Sardines boast a rich, salty flavor and just 1 cup of the canned fish provides 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. Non-Fat Yogurt: 487.6 mg, 38% DV
Not only is yogurt an excellent source of calcium, but it's also rich in gut-healthy probiotic bacteria. One cup of non-fat yogurt gives you 38 percent of your DV of calcium. Try to choose yogurts with no added sugar and toss in your own toppings, like fresh fruit, nuts and seeds for flavor.
3. Orange Juice: 348.6 mg, 27% DV
Yes, orange juice is particularly high in vitamin C (with 93 percent of your DV in 1 cup) but it also has 27 percent of your DV of calcium as it's often fortified with the nutrient.
4. Ricotta Cheese: 337.3 mg, 26% DV
This creamy, Italian cheese is another fan favorite most often found in lasagna or ravioli. It's also quite nutritious, boasting a healthy serving of protein, fat and, of course, calcium. A 1/2 cup of low-fat ricotta cheese boasts 26 percent of your DV.
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 10 percent of your DV of calcium. They're delicious in soups, vegetarian or beef chilis and mashed into bean burgers.
6. Sesame Seeds: 280.9 mg, 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 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.
7. Collard Greens: 267.9 mg, 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 21 percent of your DV. Try it in these antioxidant-rich recipes.
8. Soybeans: 261 mg, 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 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.
9. Firm Tofu: 253.3 mg, 19% DV
Tofu is one of the best vegan foods high in calcium with 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 it in these anything-but-bland tofu recipes.
10. Parmesan Cheese: 226.8 mg, 17% DV
This pleasing pasta topping is one of the best dairy sources of calcium, giving you 17 percent of your DV in 1 ounce. It's also low in lactose compared to soft cheeses and is fairly low in fat, which makes it appealing to many types of diets.
11. Canned Salmon: 197.2 mg, 15% DV
You don't have to score salmon fresh to reap all of its nutritional benefits. Canned salmon, especially the kind including the bones, is super rich in calcium — packing 15 percent of your DV in a 3-ounce serving.
12. Broccoli Rabe: 267.6 mg, 21% DV
The smaller, skinnier form of broccoli is a tad more bitter, but it is loaded with calcium — 21 percent of your DV per cup 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.
13. Kale: 195 mg, 15% DV
Most leafy greens contain a fair share of calcium, but kale is a top contender. This crunchy, cruciferous vegetable contains 15 percent of your DV in 1 cup cooked.
14. Canned Shrimp: 185.6 mg, 14% DV
This protein-packed seafood is quite healthy and a wonderful source of protein, providing 26 grams per cooked cup. Canned shrimp, especially, is high in calcium as well, containing 14 percent of your DV.
15. Chia Seeds: 179.2 mg, 14% DV
These seeds might be tiny, but they pack a serious nutritional punch and offer up 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.
16. Bok Choy: 158.1 mg, 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 12 percent of your DV of calcium.