If the word calcium conjures up images of milk in your mind, you might find it interesting to know that the highest sources of calcium don’t come from cows or any animal at all. Since calcium is a mineral, it comes from the soil like all other minerals do. One reason milk is thought to be the best source is because originally cows feasted off grass and obtained calcium from the soil. Today, cows are fed cheap sources of soy and corn to help them gain weight quicker, so fortified sources of calcium are actually added to dairy milk following the pasteurization process. Plus, cow's milks isn't the highest source of calcium either. Opt for these plant-based sources of calcium since they're healthier for you and much more delicious too!
Spirulina is a deep sea algae and one of the richest sources of calcium in the food world. It contains 26% more calcium than milk. Spirulina is also a great source of iron, protein, vitamin B12 and vitamin A. Add a teaspoon or two to a smoothie each day and you’ll be good to go.
2. Fortified Nondairy Milk
Fortified nondairy milk is almost always higher in calcium than cow’s milk, usually by 50%. Since dairy milk is fortified after pasteurization anyway, just opt for soy, almond, rice, hemp, cashew or coconut instead. Try to buy a brand that is non-GMO and has at least 30% of your daily calcium needs.
3. Black Beans
Black beans provide you with 10% of your daily calcium needs with 102 milligrams per half cup serving. Black beans are also high in iron, B vitamins, protein, potassium, fiber, and magnesium.
4. Leafy Greens
Swiss chard, spinach, kale, bok choy, collard greens, mustard greens and turnip greens are among food with the highest sources of plant-based calcium. One cup of kale contains 180 milligrams of calcium, which is 18% of your daily needs. Collard greens have over 350 milligrams in just one cup, making them an even better option. Aim for 5 servings of leafy greens a day and you’ll be well on your way to obtaining your calcium needs.
Tofu is a top source of calcium, protein, phytoestrogens, fiber, healthy fats, and Vitamin E. Just a half cup a day provides you with 26% of your daily needs with over 260 milligrams per serving.
If you're a fan of quinoa, give another pseudograin a try sometime, such as amaranth. It's a great source of calcium with 275 milligrams per ¼ cup. Have amaranth in place of oatmeal for breakfast and enjoy this high protein, easy-to-digest, creamy option.
7. Dried Figs
While dates and raisins are tasty options for dried fruits, dried figs are actually the better option when you’re looking to boost your calcium intake. Dried figs contain 126 milligrams of calcium, which is over 10% of your daily needs. They make awesome alternatives to dates in energy bars and smoothies and they’re also delightful when added to oatmeal or quinoa for a breakfast porridge.
8. Chia Seeds
Chia seeds provide you with 179 milligrams of calcium, not to mention iron and B vitamins. They're also a great source of fiber, magnesium, manganese and protein. Have a couple tablespoons a day in a smoothie or in some oatmeal.
Sesame seeds are a rich source of calcium, so opt for tahini (sesame seed butter) for a more potent source. Tahini contains roughly 179 milligrams in 2 tablespoons and is a fabulous plant-based food to add to your diet. It's also rich in iron, B vitamins, magnesium, and protein.
Calcium is important to maintain strong bone health, keep anxiety at bay, help your nails stay strong, and may also help reduce weight around the waistline. Just remember, yogurt and milk aren’t your only options, so give these others a try instead! Do you eat any of these sources of calcium each day?