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15 Ways to Boost Your Calcium Intake

You’re careful about calories and fussy about fat. You crunch the numbers and keep track of your daily diet. But how conscious are you of calcium, the mineral that keeps men and women strong and healthy? 

Calcium plays an important role in strengthening bones and teeth. But what many people don’t know is that it also helps muscles and nerves function properly. Calcium isn’t something your body can manufacture itself, so it relies on your diet to meet its needs.

Bones and teeth store about 99 percent of the calcium in the body, with the remaining 1 percent usually found in blood, muscles and other bodily tissues and fluid. If your body isn’t getting enough calcium from the foods you eat, it will take the mineral out of your bones, essentially robbing them of some of their strength. A calcium deficiency can eventually lead to osteoporosis, which is the loss of bone mass. Because bones are continually repaired throughout your lifetime, it is essential to get enough calcium, no matter your age. Taking care of your bones now will aid you in later years.

It is currently recommended that adults ages 18-50 consume about 1000 milligrams (mg) of calcium a day, while adults ages 51 or older need 1200 milligrams. (It is also worth noting that adequate consumption of vitamin D aids in the absorption of calcium.) 

The best sources of calcium are, of course, dairy foods. Just one cup of milk or yogurt contains 300 milligrams of calcium. Other good sources include cheese (200 mg. per ounce) and cottage cheese (77 mg. per 1/2 cup). Use caution with dairy products, however. While you can meet your calcium needs with three to four dairy servings per day, watch out for extra calories and fat. Often, these foods come in non-fat or low-fat varieties, many of which taste just as good as the full-fat versions yet still contain the same amount of calcium.

Green, leafy vegetables are high in calcium, but low in calories. One cup of spinach contains almost 250 milligrams of calcium, while a cup of kale has almost 100 milligrams. Broccoli contains 80 milligrams, making it another healthy vegetable to include in your diet. Other excellent sources include canned sardines (325 mg per 3 oz), canned salmon (180 mg per 3 oz), nuts such as almonds, legumes like garbanzo beans or peas, and fortified tofu (130 mg per 1 cup). 
 

15 Simple Ways to Increase Calcium Consumption 


There are many easy ways to boost your calcium intake by sneaking these foods into your daily diet:
  1. Add beans to soups, chili and pasta dishes.
  2. Grate low-fat cheese over soups and salads.
  3. Enjoy a smoothie made with yogurt.
  4. Use milk instead of water in soups, breads, sauces or salad dressings.
  5. Add milk to tea or coffee in the morning.
  6. Try plain yogurt as a vegetable dip.
  7. Stir some nuts into a yogurt cup as a snack.
  8. Include leafy vegetables in baked casseroles such as lasagna.
  9. Buy juices and cereals fortified with calcium.
  10. Drink skim milk instead of soda at lunch.
  11. Eat hot oatmeal made with milk for breakfast.
  12. Snack on crunchy broccoli instead of potato chips.
  13. Substitute plain low-fat yogurt for recipes that call for sour cream.
  14. Treat yourself to pudding made with skim milk for dessert.
  15. Take a daily supplement, available in capsules or chewable tablets.
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Member Comments

Thanks for sharing this one! Report
Since I'm allergic to dairy this has always been a concern so I was pleased to see my favorites listed: salmon & peas. I also take supplements & use molasses. Report
Thanks Report
Thanks for a great article. Report
Thanks Report
ONLYME33
Good facts on calcium Report
Thanks for the great ideas! Report
Thank you! Great article! Report
Great article! Report
Great article! Report
My cousin suggested I start using a supplement called CALM it's mixed with hot water and has magnesium and calcium -it helps me sleep better and my calcium was good during my last bloodwork, at 63 I am the only one of my friends who hasn't lost any height! At 5'2" that's a good thing! Report
Thanks, my doc says I need to up my calcium. Report
great article Report
EVIE4NOW
good ideas.. thanks Report
HAPPYDAY725
I just heard that the calcium in spinach is calcium oxalate which the human body doesn't absorb very well. If that's the case then spinach would not be a great source for calcium. Report
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About The Author

Liz Noelcke
Liz Noelcke
Liz is a journalist who often writes about health and fitness topics.