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Foods That Contain Calcium, Including Non-Dairy Sources

Updated: Aug 29, 2022

Keep your bones and body strong with these lesser-known calcium-rich foods.

Why Do We Need Calcium?

Calcium is one of the main minerals the body uses for the maintenance of bones, muscle contractions (including your heartbeat) and ensuring normal blood clotting. It is the most abundant mineral found in the body, and 98% of it is stored in our skeleton. The body uses this as a reservoir for the constant remodeling of our bones throughout our lives.

We are constantly reabsorbing calcium from our bones and depositing it into new bone tissue, so it is important to ensure that our diets consist of plenty of foods that contain calcium to support this process. A Cochrane review of studies in 2018(opens in new tab) indicated that calcium supplementation during pregnancy may reduce the risk of the mother developing pre-eclampsia or giving birth prematurely, particularly if their diets were already low in calcium.

Best Sources Of Calcium:

Best Sources Of Calcium

Dairy products are one of the best sources of calcium, which is why milk is good for you and cheese is good for you (in appropriate amounts). If you follow a vegan diet, you will find lots of dairy alternatives that are fortified with calcium, as well as legumes and green leafy vegetables..

Here’s how to do it:

  • Cheese

    • Parmesan – 884mg per 100g

    • Cheddar – 707mg per 100g

    • Mozzarella – 693 mg per 100g

  • Fish

    • Sardines (with bones) – 382mg per 100g

    • Salmon – 26mg per 100g

    • Mackerel – 12mg per 100g

  • Plant-based milks

    • Unsweetened almond milk – 120mg per 100ml

    • Oat milk – 130mg per 100g

    • Soy milk – 101mg per 100g

  • Dairy

    • Whole milk – 123mg per 100g

    • Greek yogurt – 111mg per 100g

    • Sour cream – 101mg per 100g

  • Vegetables

    • Kale – 254 mg per 100g

    • Beet leaves – 117mg per 100g

    • Broccoli – 46mg per 100g

  • Meat alternatives

    • Tempeh – 111mg per 100g

    • Firm silken tofu – 36mg per 100g

Symptoms Of Calcium Deficiency

A calcium deficiency can lead to skeletal issues such as rickets in children or osteomalacia and osteoporosis in adults. This is particular prevalent among post-menopausal women, who lose bone mass rapidly after menopause. As we age, our bones naturally lose density, but this process is sped up in those with osteoporosis.

“Vegans are also at risk of falling short of the recommended daily intake for calcium,” Dr Daniel Fenton, clinical director at London Doctors Clinic, told Coach. “Eating more tofu, tahini, almonds and green, leafy vegetables can help to top up calcium levels.”

If you are struggling to meet your daily requirement from foods that contain calcium, you can purchase calcium supplements (often combined with vitamin D) in most supermarkets and pharmacies.

Dean advises that adults should aim for 700mg of calcium per day. “This can be achieved by eating three servings of calcium-rich food each day,” she says. “Those who are breastfeeding, have coeliac disease, osteoporosis or inflammatory bowel disease, or are past the menopause have greater requirements and so may be more at risk of deficiency.”

Taking too much calcium, however, can lead to calcium toxicity. In fact, ingesting more than 3,000mg per day puts you at risk of hypercalcemia, a build-up of calcium in the blood that causes kidney stones and issues with heart, brain and muscle function. It is best to stick to recommended daily amounts when supplementing, and to check with your doctor before starting a new supplement routine.

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