This is why it is so important to avoid calcium deficiency and strive to consume calcium rich foods on a regular basis.
Aside from dairy products like milk, calcium can be found in certain plant foods as well. Leafy green vegetables, like collard greens and kale, are great sources of calcium, as are other plant foods like okra and a variety of beans.
Best Food Sources of Calcium
Here are 13 ways to add more calcium to your diet naturally (the following percentages are based on the recommended daily allowance of 1000 mg for adult men and women under the age of 51):
1. Whey Protein
3 scoops (86 grams): 600 mg (60%) (5)
1 can (3.75 oz): 351 mg (35%) (6)
3. Kefir (Goat Milk)
1 cup: 327 mg (32.7%) (7)
4. Raw Milk
1 cup: 300 mg (30%) (8)
5. White Bean 1 cup cooked: 242 mg (24%) (9)
6. Raw Milk Cheese
1 ounce (depending on style of cheese): about 200mg (20%) (10)
7. Kidney Beans 1 cup 180 mg (18%) (11)
8. Sesame Seeds
2 tbsp: 176 mg (17.6%) (12)
1 cup cooked: 164 mg (16.4%) (13)
10. Collard Greens
½ cup cooked: 134 mg (13.4%) (14)
¼ cup: 114 mg (11.4%) (15)
¼ cup: 95 mg (9.5%) (16)
13. Goat Cheese
1 oz: 84 mg (8.4%) (17)
14. Mustard Greens
½ cup cooked: 82 mg (8%) (18)
Bone calcium is also used as a storage area to release calcium into the blood stream when it is needed.
Calcium is used for nerve transmission, blood clotting, hormone secretion, and muscle contraction.
Blood calcium is tightly controlled since it plays so many critical functions including balancing your bodies acid/alkaline body and pH.
The body will borrow calcium from the bones as needed, so often that the bones are actually remodeled about every 10 years.
Calcium deficiency symptoms can include:
- Osteopenia or Osteoporosis
- Tooth decay
- Muscle tension
- High blood pressure
In order for your body to absorb calcium your body also needs magnesium, vitamin D and vitamin K. So food sources and complex food based supplements are preferred to isolated calcium supplements to meet your calcium needs.
The RDA for calcium is 1000 mg/day for men and women under 50, and 1200 mg/day for those over 50. The Daily Value is 1000 mg.
Top 10 Calcium Rich Foods
1) Raw Milk1 cup: 300 mg (30% DV)
2) Kale (cooked)1 cup: 245 mg (24% DV)
3) Sardines (with bones)2 ounces: 217 mg (21% DV)
4) Yogurt or Kefir6 oz: 300 mg (30% DV)
5) Broccoli1 ½ cup cooked: 93 mg (9% DV)
6) Watercress1 cup: 41 mg (4% DV)
7) Cheese1 oz: 224 mg (22% DV)
8) Bok Choy1 cup:74 mg (7% DV)
9) Okra1 cup: 82 mg (8% DV)
10) Almonds1 oz: 76 mg (8% DV)
In general, calcium food sources are found in the highest amounts in raw dairy and green vegetables.
Top Health Benefits of Calcium
Bone HealthCalcium is critical in the teens into the early 20s when bones are solidifying and the body is achieving its peak bone mass. The greater the peak bone mass, the longer one can delay osteoporosis or loss of bone mass at a later age. Over 10 million US adults are affected by osteoporosis and it is one of the leading causes of bone fractures in the elderly.
Cancer PreventionStudies have shown that consuming calcium rich foods are associated with a decreased risk of colon and rectal cancers. The evidence is not enough to recommend calcium supplements for the prevention of colon cancer, but eating high calcium foods may have the same effect.
Weight managementThere is a connection between calcium intake and lower body weight. It is believed that calcium in the diet can bind to fat in the digestive system, preventing absorption, therefore lowering the calories that actually make it into the body.
Blood pressure and heart healthHigh Calcium foods help relax smooth muscle, found in the veins and arteries, and can help reduce blood pressure. The DASH Diet (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension) recommends a diet high in calcium to help improve blood pressure.