Calcium is a type of mineral found throughout the body. Calcium helps our muscles work, our nerves transmit information and even helps increase our overall metabolic rate. The calcium is stored in our bone tissue, teeth and bones, which makes calcium very important to the health and strength of our teeth and bones. Since our bones change and grow over the course of a lifetime, proper calcium levels are needed to help ensure proper bone growth during childhood and adolescence and to prevent bone loss later in life.
While calcium supplements are available in many formats for both children and adults, the best natural food source of calcium is through foods that are naturally high in the mineral.
250 Milligrams (mg) or More per Serving
The best types of food have at least 280mg of calcium per serving. For example, eight ounces of plain, low-fat yogurt has 415mg of calcium per serving. Six ounces of calcium-fortified orange juice has 375mg per serving, while eight ounces of fruit-based, low fat yogurt has between 338 and 384mg per serving.
Various types of milk and cheese are also high in calcium, such as 1.5 ounces of part skim mozzarella, which has 333mg per serving and 1.5 ounces of cheddar cheese has 307mg per serving. Eight ounces of non-fat milk has 299mg per serving, while eight ounces of reduced-fat milk has 293mg per serving. Eight ounces of whole milk has 276mg per serving and eight ounces of buttermilk has between 282 and 350mg per serving.
250mg or Less per Serving
Other than dairy products, many foods are naturally high in calcium. For example, ½ cup of firm tofu made with calcium has 253mg per serving, while three ounces of canned pink salmon has 181mg per serving. One cup of one percent cottage cheese has 138mg per serving and one cup of calcium-fortified breakfast cereal has between 100 and 1,000 mg per serving.
Several vegetables are naturally high in calcium as well, such as ½-cup fresh boiled turnip greens, which have 99mg per serving, and 1 cup of kale has between 94 and 99mg per serving. One cup of Chinese cabbage raw has 74mg per serving and ½ cup of raw broccoli has 21 mg per serving.
Children and adults who consistently eat a diet high in foods with calcium and take calcium supplements as necessary should have strong bones for life.