Calcium is the most prevalent mineral in the human body, and one of the most beneficial.
You know that calcium is necessary for bone health and preventing osteoporosis, but it has many other benefits. It also helps to protect cardiac muscles, prevent colon cancer, alleviate the symptoms of PMS, and helps to maintain body weight and prevent obesity.
The RDA (recommended daily allowance) for calcium in adults ages 19-50 is 1,000mg daily; and 1,200mg daily for women over 50. However, only a small percentage of us actually meet this daily recommendation.
Of course, the easiest way to get calcium is through milk and other dairy products, but for those who either don’t like milk or are lactose intolerant here are some other great options…
Get your greens
Greens are a terrific natural source of calcium. Coming in at the very top of this list is collard greens, which have 357mg of calcium per cup (chopped). Some of the other calcium-rich greens are kale, okra, spinach, mustard greens, and seaweed. Other good veggie options are broccoli, cabbage, sweet potatoes, and butternut squash. One great advantage to getting calcium from greens is that the calcium absorption rate from these vegetables is actually higher than that of milk.
Beans, nuts, and peas
Soybeans and processed soy products (such as tofu) pack the highest punch in this category. White beans are the next best option, as well as, navy beans, black beans, and chickpeas. There is also a good amount of calcium in nuts (specifically almonds and Brazil nuts). Sesame seeds are also a terrific source of calcium at 351mg per ¼ cup.
Seafood may not seem like an obvious choice, but there are a number of options that are packed with calcium. The best in this category is sardines. Sardines (canned with bones) will give you 370mg of calcium in just a 3oz serving. Other good options are salmon (canned, with bones), shrimp, mussels, and oysters.
While they can’t beat greens, there are a number of fruits that can also help you to eat your calcium. The number one calcium rich fruit is dried figs. These are followed by rhubarb, dates, dried apricots, oranges, tangerines, and prunes.
Food should always be the first choice before supplements. However, if you choose to take a calcium supplement instead, be sure to choose a good formula. Look for one containing calcium citrate, which is more easily absorbed than calcium carbonate.