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Calcium Better From Food, Says New Study:
Here are the 26 Top Calcium Food Sources

You all know that calcium is good for your bones, but when it comes to where to get your calcium, well, that's another story.


Mom was right when she told you to drink your milk for strong bones ... foods are the BEST way to get enough calcium (though there are many more foods to get it from than milk).

Visit any health food store or supermarket and you'll see close to an entire aisle devoted to calcium supplements. Then there are the claims on food packages like cheese, ice cream, and even fortified orange juice that THEY are the best sources.

So which is it?

Your Best Source of Calcium is From Your Food

Eating calcium-rich foods is a better method to strengthen your bones than taking calcium supplements alone, according to researchers from Washington University in St. Louis.

In the study, women who consumed an average of 830 milligrams (mg) of calcium per day in the foods they ate had higher bone-mineral densities (BMDs) than women who took 1,033 mg of calcium in supplement form.

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Interestingly, if you're going to choose one or the other, food appears to be the winner. However, a combination of both food and supplements may also be beneficial.

Women who got at least 70 percent of their calcium from food, and took calcium supplements, had the highest BMDs of all and took in 1,620 mg of calcium per day.

What Else is Calcium Good For?

About 1.5 percent of your body weight is made up of calcium, 99 percent of which is in your bones and teeth.

Calcium not only helps the strength and density of your bones, it also impacts the metabolism of estrogen in your body, which plays a role in your bone strength.

Calcium also plays a part in many other body functions, including:

  • Blood clotting

  • Nerve conduction

  • Muscle contraction

  • Regulation of enzyme activity

  • Cell membrane function

Interestingly, your body makes sure that there is enough calcium circulating in your blood to do its part in these physiological activities. If you don't get enough of this mineral through your diet or supplements, however, it means that your blood levels of calcium will be low.


Spinach is one of the best food sources of calcium there is (and other leafy greens are a close second).

To compensate, your body will take calcium from your bones to keep your blood calcium levels where they need to be. Over time, this can weaken your bones and lead to osteoporosis.

This is why it's so important to make sure you and your family are getting enough of this important mineral.

The Best Food Sources of Calcium

Contrary to popular belief, dairy foods are not the only sources of calcium. Here are some of the best food sources of calcium out there, including not only dairy foods but a range of others as well:

  1. Spinach
  2. Turnip greens
  3. Mustard greens
  4. Collard greens
  5. Blackstrap molasses
  6. Swiss chard
  7. Yogurt
  8. Kale
  9. Mozzarella cheese
  10. Milk (goat's milk and cow's milk)
  11. Basil, thyme, dill seed, cinnamon, and peppermint leaves
  12. Romaine lettuce
  13. Rhubarb
  1. Broccoli
  2. Sesame seeds
  3. Fennel
  4. Cabbage
  5. Summer squash
  6. Green beans
  7. Garlic
  8. Tofu
  9. Brussel sprouts
  10. Oranges
  11. Asparagus
  12. Crimini mushrooms

Looking for a calcium-rich dish that you and your family can enjoy tonight? Try out these delicious and simple calcium-packed side-dishes with your meal.

Mediterranean Swiss Chard


  • 2 large bunches chopped Swiss chard
  • 1 medium clove garlic, pressed
  • 1/2 TBS balsamic vinegar or fresh lemon juice
  • extra virgin olive oil to taste
  • salt and black pepper to taste


  1. Bring lightly salted water to a rapid boil in a large pot. Cut off tough bottom part of stems.
  2. Add the chopped leaves to the boiling water and simmer for only 3-5 minutes, until tender.
  3. Strain through colander and press out excess water. Toss with rest of ingredients. Make sure you don't toss chard with dressing until you are ready to serve. Otherwise the flavor will become diluted. (Serves 2)

Crimini Mushroom Sauté


  • 1/2 medium onion, cut in half and sliced thin
  • 1 TBS chicken or vegetable broth
  • 4 cups whole small to medium crimini mushrooms. Remove ends of mushroom stems and wipe clean if necessary.
  • 6 medium cloves of garlic, chopped
  • 1 TBS chopped fresh rosemary
  • 1/4 cup Tawny or regular Port
  • salt and cracked black pepper to taste


  1. Heat 1 TBS broth in a 10-12 inch stainless steel skillet. Healthy Sauté onion for 5 minutes over medium heat stirring frequently. While onions are cooking prepare rest of ingredients.
  2. Add garlic, mushrooms and rosemary, and continue to sauté for another 5 minutes.
  3. Stir in port and simmer for about 4 more minutes. Season with salt and pepper.

    Recipes from: The World's Healthiest Foods

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Harvard Women's Health Watch September 2007 September 23, 2007

The World's Healthiest Foods

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