Finding rich sources of calcium is not difficult.
However, many of us end up relying on supplements instead of choosing the right food option.
Our body needs a variety of different minerals and vitamins in order to keep all the vital structures in our body health.
In fact, when we have insufficient quantities of essential vitamins and minerals in our body, basic functions such as hormone production, heart contraction, and blood vessel relaxation can alter.
This can lead to numerous health problems.
Why Is Calcium Important?
Calcium is a nutrient that is necessary for the growth and maintenance of strong teeth and bones. Low levels of calcium can lead to numbness in the fingers and toes, muscle cramps and loss of appetite.
But that’s not all. Calcium deficiency can affect the heart as well. Abnormal heart rhythms are linked to low calcium levels in the bloodstream.
Calcium is also required to help blood clot as well.
While low levels of calcium in the blood are a problem, excessive calcium in the blood can be problematic as well.
If you consume too much calcium, you could increase your chances of developing stones in the kidney.
You could also increase your risk of developing a heart attack or stroke. Stomach pains and diarrhea can be a problem too.
In this article, I will mostly cover the common sources of calcium in the diet.
How Much Calcium Do We Need Daily?
Our daily requirement of calcium changes as we get older.
During our growing years, calcium helps develop bones and teeth, especially during adolescence.
In our older years, the bones become thin and sometimes brittle. Increasing intake of foods rich in calcium can keep them strong.
Generally, as adults, we need around 700 mg of calcium in our diet every day. Infants and young children only need half this amount.
Unless we choose the right foods, it can be hard to get this through diet alone.
In one news report, the calcium intake in people from India is less than 400 mg per day!
Clearly, it is essential to find the right sources of calcium to keep your body healthy.
What Are The Best Sources Of Calcium In The Diet?
Below is a list of calcium rich foods. Make sure you include some or most of these in your daily diet.
#1 – Dark Green Leafy Vegetables
Some of the best green leafy vegetables include spinach and kale. 100 grams of spinach contains 99 mg of calcium.
However, green leafy vegetables also contain oxalates. These oxalates can prevent the absorption of calcium. They are also responsible for kidney stones.
Green leafy vegetables, while a rich source of calcium, should not be consumed in excess. However, make sure you include it as a part of your diet a few times a week.
#2 – Seeds
Seeds are a great high calcium source. Some examples include poppy seeds and sesame seeds.
Chia seeds are another excellent source of calcium, in addition to other nutrients. 100 grams of Chia seeds contains 631 mg of calcium. That’s a lot. (I have discussed this later).
Seeds have become popular of late as a health food. You could consume a small handful of mixed seeds every day to give your body the calcium hit it needs.
#3 – Cheeses
Parmesan cheese is the richest source of calcium among all cheeses. However, it tends to be a little expensive and has limited availability in shops in India.
Soft cheeses tend to have a lesser amount of calcium.
Do note that a lot of processed cheeses might be high in calcium, but are also high in salt and fat. This makes them relatively unhealthy.
Don’t opt for cheese as one of the primary sources of calcium in your diet. Avoid processed foods completely if you have high blood pressure.
#4 – Yogurt
Yogurts (or curds) is a dairy product that has a lot of calcium in it.
It is also rich in probiotic (good) bacteria. This makes it great to keep your digestive system healthy.
Have yogurt plain or mixed with fresh berries. Avoid adding sugar as it completely takes away the health benefit.
#5 – Beans and Lentils
Beans and lentils of all kinds boast a lot of iron,zinc, folate, magnesium and potassium in addition to calcium. Winged beans head the race, containing the highest quantity of calcium compared to other beans.
#6 – Almonds
Among all the nuts available, almonds have the highest amount of calcium in them.
Regularly consuming a handful of nuts can keep your heart healthy, lower your blood pressure and keep you slim.
#7 – Figs
Figs as a fruit contain significant amounts of calcium in it. One and a half cup of figs contain around 320 mg of calcium in it.
Dried figs are great to munch on. However, I like fresh figs roasted in the oven with honey. Yum.
#8 – Ragi
So here is a fact – 100 grams of Ragi contains around 350 mg of calcium in it.
If you are a fan of the ragi ball or have ragi as a staple food on a daily basis, you do not really need supplements.
#9 – Fish
Fish are a rich source of calcium along with proteins and omega 3 fatty acids. However, it is the bones that contain a lot of calcium.
The best source of calcium among fish is sardines and salmon. Their bones are edible and provide a good amount of calcium.
#10 – Chia Seeds
Chia seeds are now considered a superfood, with more and more people using it in their daily diet.
You can read a detailed article on chia seeds here on the blog.
So there you have it – 10 great rich sources of calcium in your diet. Who said you need supplements???