Calcium is a mineral that is vital to your body's health. It helps your body grow and keep strong bones. Your body always needs calcium. When there is not enough in the foods you eat, your body pulls what it needs from your bones. Over time, this can lead to osteoporosis(weak bones).

Why Should I Eat This Way?

If you are at risk for or have osteoporosis, eating foods that are high in calcium can help. It can help build and keep strong bones. If you it already, then it can lower the rate of bone loss.

How Much Calcium Do I Need?

Men and premenopausal women need 1,000 milligrams (mg) of calcium per day. Postmenopausal women need 1,200 mg. per day. Teens need 1,300 mg. per day.

What Are Some Good Sources of Calcium?

Don't focus on eating more of just one food with calcium, such as milk. Try adding other foods. This table lists some foods that are good sources:

Fruit
Food (1 cup) Approximate Milligrams of Calcium
Orange juice with calcium 330-350
Dried figs 241
Cereals
Food (Amount) Approximate Milligrams of Calcium
General Mills Fiber One Bran (½ cup) 200
General Mills Whole Grain Total (¾ cup) 400
General Mills Wheaties (1 cup) 200
Kellogg's All Bran Original (½ cup) 250
Quaker Life (¾ cup) 200
Cheese
Food (Amount) Approximate Milligrams of Calcium
Cheddar (1 ounce) 204
Gruyere (1 ounce) 287
Mozzarella, part skim (1 ounce) 222
Muenster (1 ounce) 203
Parmesan, grated (1 ounce) 314
Pasteurized American (1 ounce) 156
Provolone (1 ounce) 214
Swiss (1 ounce) 224
Cottage cheese 1% milkfat (1 cup) 138
Yogurt
Food (Amount) Approximate Milligrams of Calcium
Frozen (1 cup) 74
Fruit, nonfat, or lowfat (6 ounces) 258
Milk (dairy)
Food (1 cup) Approximate Milligrams of Calcium
Nonfat 306
Lowfat 290
Whole 276
Fish
Food (Amount) Approximate Milligrams of Calcium
Atlantic sardines with bones, canned in oil, drained 2 sardines 92
Canned pink salmon with bones and liquid (3 ounces) 181
Canned sockeye salmon with bones, drained (3 ounces) 203
Soy
Food (1 cup) Approximate Milligrams of Calcium
Soy 93
Soy with calcium 368
Soybeans 261
Veggies
Food (1 cup) Approximate Milligrams of Calcium
Collards (frozen, chopped, boiled) 357
Kale (chopped, fresh, boiled) 94
Kale (chopped, frozen, boiled) 179
Mustard greens (fresh, boiled) 104
Spinach (chopped, fresh, boiled) 245
Spinach (chopped, frozen, boiled) 290

What Other Changes Should I Make?

Other ways to protect your bones are:

Vitamin D is vital in order for your body to use the calcium you eat. Good sources are: milk with calcium, salmon, mackerel, egg yolks, and sunlight. Weight-bearing exercise, such as walking, running, and strength-training, can help make your bones strong. Also, quitting smoking is vital to stopping more bone loss.

Are There Any Foods That I Should Not Eat?

Eating foods that are very high in fiber or alcohol can get in the way of your body getting enough calcium. Caffeine, found in coffee, tea or soda, can also pull calcium out of your bones and into your urine.

Tips on Getting More Calcium

Here are some tips on how to get more calcium:

  • Choose breakfast cereals that have calcium.
  • Add milk in place of water when you make oatmeal.
  • Use canned salmon, instead of tuna, to make lunch salads.
  • Drink orange juice that has calcium.
  • Add nonfat dry milk to the things you cook, such as pancakes, bread, cookies, puddings, and cocoa.
  • Use yogurt in place of sour cream or mayonnaise when making dressings, dips, or sauces.
  • Add shredded cheese to foods, such as baked potatoes, casseroles, and salads.
  • If you are finding it hard to get enough calcium, talk to your doctor about taking calcium pills.