Great Ways to Get Calcium

Photo: jwebb

May is National Osteoporosis Awareness and Prevention Month, which means it's time to find out how to keep those bones strong! In addition to building strong bones, calcium helps with other functions of the body including muscles, nerves, managing weight, and healthy blood pressure.

The recommended daily allowance of calcium is 1,000 mg for adults (slightly more for teenagers and those over 50). A serving of milk contains about 300 mg of calcium, so you need at least three glasses per day, which many of us don't get.

Everyone knows that milk is an excellent source of calcium. However, not everyone drinks it for various reasons. Whether you are a vegan, lactose intolerant, or simply don't like the taste, fear not, for there are many alternatives you're sure to love! Here are eight great ways to get the calcium your body needs without getting a milk mustache. (See also: Powdered Milk Solutions for Dairy Lovers)

1. In the Morning Meal

It's easy to get calcium in your diet from the first meal of the day. Oatmeal provides 100–150 mg of calcium, while a bowl of cereal can add another 100 mg. Yogurt contains over 200 mg of calcium, and did you know that even a slice of bread contains 50 mg of calcium? Throw a piece of cheese on top, and you'll be off to a good start!

2. An Apricot a Day...

For those fruit lovers out there, you're in luck! A daily serving of apricots contains about 120 mg of calcium, while figs contain a whopping 500 mg! Eat a few of these, and you'll be halfway to your daily goal!

3. Catching Some Rays

Vitamin D is crucial to your body's absorption of calcium. Milk is often fortified with vitamin D, but it if isn't, just spend a little time in the sun! Your body makes vitamin D when exposed to the sun, so taking a 15 to 30 minute walk during lunch two to three times a week can reduce the amount of calcium you need.

4. The Popeye Method

Spinach has over 275 mg of calcium in a cup, so a spinach lasagna with ricotta cheese (another 500 mg+ per cup) can go a long way toward fulfilling your daily value while still tasting great! Other calcium-rich veggies include kale, parsley, broccoli, and other dark green leafy vegetables.

5. Tofu: Good News for Vegans

Tofu is another excellent source of calcium. A serving contains over 500 mg of calcium, so even vegans, who are often left out in the cold when it comes to getting the nutrients they need, can still find ways to get calcium in their diets.

6. Beans, Beans, They're Good For Your...Bones

Weighing in with about 75 mg of calcium per serving (of just three tablespoons) are red kidney beans, so throwing these in a salad can be a great way to add that much-needed calcium. Add another 50 mg with chickpeas, and top it off with some baked beans, which add about 75 mg more calcium.

7. Going Nuts

A serving of almonds or walnuts contains almost 100 mg of calcium, and they're a great way to gain valuable energy for those on low-carb diets. And sesame seeds are packed with calcium!

8. Adding a Little Extra

If you don't like milk, what's better in the morning than a cup of orange juice infused with calcium? A glass of calcium-fortified orange juice contains 300 mg of calcium, about the same amount of calcium contained in a glass of milk.

Many people don't get enough calcium, but by making it a priority and paying attention to ingredients, it doesn't have to be a burden to get your bones nice and strong! Happy National Osteoporosis Awareness and Prevention Month!

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Guest's picture

I love milk, cheese, yogurt, probiotics, anything dairy so I don't worry about getting enough calcium. However, living on the east coast means that Vitamin D production is a problem, especially in the Winter when I'm bundle up and those walks don't expose enough skin to sunlight. I take a daily Vitamin D supplement to make sure my calcium absorption is optimal.

Guest's picture

yay, I love tofu!

Meg Favreau's picture

Me too! I like looking at this list and trying to figure out ways to make an ultra-calcium meal. Tofu + beans + spinach...mmm.

Guest's picture

"There is no evidence to support the commonly held belief that milk builds stronger bones. When scientists reviewed all the studies that examined the relationship between dairy consumption and bone health published between 1985 and 2000 and narrowed them down to those that were well-controlled and provided strong data, they found that 57 percent showed no significant relationship between the two, while 29 percent showed a favorable relationship and 14 percent showed that dairy consumption was actually detrimental to bone health." From Health at Every Size by Linda Bacon. She pulls this information from the following studies:

Lanou, Amy Joy, Susan E. Berkow, and Neal D. Barnard, "Calcium, Dairy Products, and Bone Health in Children and Young Adults: A Reevaluation of the Evidence," Pediatrics 115, no. 3 (2005):736-43.

Weunsuer, Roland L. and Carlos L. Krumdieck, "Dairy Foods and Bone Health: Examination of the Evidence," American Journal of Clinical Nutrition 72 (2000): 681-89.

Guest's picture

Spinach too - the calcium is bound to oxalate. This article is not worthy of repute.