Calcium is CRUCIAL for bone health, whether you’re a beginner runner, or an elite athlete. This shouldn’t be news—unless you’ve been living under a rock for the entirety of your life.
In today’s article, I’ll share with you a long list of the best foods to consume to get the nutrient.
Calcium makes up much of the teeth and bones, and it’s essential for health and optimal bodily functioning.
In fact, calcium is the most abundant mineral in the body. The human body contains about two pounds of it, with 99 percent stored in the structure of bones and teeth.
The Many Benefits of Calcium
Calcium is needed for much more than building and maintaining strong bones and teeth.
Here is a short list of the benefits:
- Ensure proper muscle function,
- Improve cardiovascular function,
- Regulate nerve signaling,
- Reduce blood pressure,
- Maintain healthy blood vessels,
- Prevent insulin resistance—major cause of type II diabetes.
Why Runners Need Calcium
Running, and other weight-bearing sports, strengthen the bones. But, if you don’t supply your bones with enough calcium, then they won’t get stronger.
Instead, particularly in cases of calcium deficiencies, weight-bearing activities can make the bones weaker, leading to the bone’s eventual crack and break.
Therefore, to ensure bone health, you’ll need to consume plenty of calcium-rich foods.
How Much Calcium Do You Need?
As a general rule, consume 1,000 to 1,200 mg of calcium per day if you’re under 50, and 1,300 mg per day for those older than 50—from food sources rather than supplements.
That may translate to about one glass skim milk, one cup of plain yogurt, or one thick slice of cheddar cheese.
The 14 Calcium-Rich Foods You Need To Eat
Calcium naturally occurs in a wide range of foods and beverages and is added to many others.
Here is a comprehensive list of foods and drinks choke of calcium.
1. Raw Milk
Milk is one of the most concentrated sources of calcium.
One cup of cow’s milk contains about 270 to 350 mg of calcium, depending on whether it’s non-fat or whole milk. This equals 25 to 30 percent the recommended daily allowance.
Dairy calcium is also absorbed well.
Image Credit – Mananweb via Flickr
One cup of the stuff also has 50 mg of magnesium and 500 mg of potassium.
These two minerals are essential for:
- Proper hydration,
- Cellular function,
- Increasing bone density,
- Maintaining muscle function,
- Regulating metabolism, and
- Improving blood circulation.
Further, raw milk is an excellent source of protein, vitamin A, and Vitamin D.
Kale is one of the best plant-based sources of calcium.
One cup of raw, chopped kale packs about 100 mg, or 10 percent of the RDA.
Also, the calcium found in kale is more bioavailable than milk calcium.
Kale is a superfood without a doubt.
While containing no more than 30 calories per serving, it provides the twice daily recommended allowance of vitamin A, and plenty of vitamin C, and vitamin K.
Also, kale is also a decent source of protein, dietary fiber, iron, folate, thiamin, phosphorus, magnesium, and manganese.
Further, this veggie is also low in saturated fat and cholesterol.
Try this recipe.
Seven sardine fillets—roughly a 3.75-ounce can – pack about 320 mg of calcium, or 30 percent of daily recommended intake.
The salty little fish is a great source of vitamin B12, an essential nutrient for nervous system and brain health.
Sardine contain a hefty dose of vitamin D and omega 3’s oils, making sardines one of the healthiest fish to munch on.
You can eat sardine straight out of the can or try adding them to your salads.
Try this recipe.
One cup of plain yogurt contains about 320 mg of calcium or the equivalent of 30 percent of the RDI.
Some types of yogurt contain live probiotic bacteria, which help relieve constipation, reduce diarrhea, and improve digestion, along with many health benefits
Yogurt is also an excellent source of vitamin B-12, potassium, phosphorous, and protein.
Further, research has linked yogurt consumption to improved metabolic health and better overall diet.
With one cup packing 44 mg of calcium, this leafy green veggie can stand its ground when it comes the amount of calcium per it provides per serving.
This cruciferous veggie is also an awesome source of vitamin C—in fact, it packs twice the vitamin C of an orange.
Plus, broccoli is high in riboflavin, thiamin, iron, magnesium, selenium, phosphorus, and dietary fiber.
Further, research has revealed that diets high in cruciferous veggies may reduce the risk of some types of cancer, including bladder and colon cancer.
This mineral rich green leafy vegetable is one of the not-so-popular cruciferous plants in the world.
One cup—34g– of the aquatic plant contains 41 mg of calcium.
Not only watercress is very low in carbs, but also rich in antioxidants and phytonutrients, such as isothiocyanates, with plenty of diseases preventing and health-promoting properties.
Watercress has more iron than spinach and as much as vitamin C as oranges per serving.
This veggie is also a goo source of folate, protein, copper, pantothenic acid, vitamin A, and potassium.
When it comes to leafy greens, nothing tastes better than a nice watercress salad. You can also add it as a side dish to your main meal.
Try this recipe.
Cheese, in virtually all its varieties, is an excellent source of calcium.
For instance, parmesan cheese packs in about 330 mg per ounce serving. That’s the equivalent of 33 percent of the daily recommended intake.
Other cheese varieties with the highest amounts of calcium include Romano and Swiss cheese.
Also, the calcium found in cheese is easily and hastily absorbed by your body than plant-based sources.
Image Credit – Catlikefelix via Flickr
Cheese is also an excellent source of vitamin A and vitamin B12—essential nutrients for immune function and energy levels.
It’s also a good source of protein—this can help you feel full for longer, preventing hunger pangs and improving recovery.
Research has also linked cheese consumption to lowered risk of heart disease and metabolic syndrome.
Just keep in mind that cheese is high fat and calories.
So if you’re wary of dietary fats or looking to lose weight, then consume it in moderation.
10. Bok Choy
Also known as Chinese cabbage, Bok Choy is another ideal source of plant calcium.
One cup of bok choy contains 74 mg of calcium—equal to 7 percent of RDI.
100 grams of the stuff pack no more than 13 calories—that’s why bok choy top the list of foods for weight loss programs, sometimes falling under the negative calorie or zero calorie category of food items.
This versatile leafy green is also rich in vitamin A, Vitamin C, fiber, and health-promoting antioxidants.
It’s also an excellent source of many essential phytonutrients, minerals, vitamins, etc.
When it comes to nuts and calcium content, almonds reign supreme.
One ounce— about 23 whole almonds —contains 75 mg of calcium or 8 percent of the RDI.
Not only that, one cup of oil-roasted almonds packs in a whopping 450 mg of calcium.
All in all, almonds are of the most nutritionally dense nuts around.
This nut also contains three grams of fiber per ounce, as well as healthy protein, packing about 10% of your daily requirement of protein.
Although almonds are rich in fats, they contain the healthy kind of fat that help reduce bad cholesterol levels while providing a plethora of health improving benefits.
Further, almonds are a fantastic source of vitamin E, manganese, and magnesium, making them one of the best nuts for your fitness and health.
So, you must be “nuts” if you don’t eat almonds every now and then, no pun intended.
This Asian vegetable is a fantastic nutritional powerhouse that has been consumed in Japan and China for thousands of years.
One cup of cooked edamame packs in 98 mg of calcium.
Edamame is a wonderful source of protein and a host of vitamins and minerals.
It’s among the few non-animal based sources of complete protein—this means they contain all of the nine essential amino acids needed for complete protein synthesis.
One cup of the stuff also has eight grams of fiber. It’s also quite rich in iron.
One cup of dried figs contains 240 mg of calcium and 13 mg per each fig.
The dried fruit is packed with antioxidants, dietary fiber, potassium, vitamin K, etc.
These are also low sodium, saturated fat, and cholesterol.
Just keep in mind that this sweet treat is also high carbohydrates since a large portion of the calories come from sugars.
So, if you’re trying to lose weight, consume them in moderation.
Image Credit – Debras Morris via Flickr
Belonging to the Polygonaceae family of plants, rhubarb is an incredibly nutritious plant.
One serving of the rhubarb—about 100g—contains 400 mg of calcium. That’s the equivalent of 40 percent of recommended daily intake.
The unique plant is an excellent source of some essential nutrients and macronutrients.
More notably vitamin K, which promotes osteotropic activity (it helps the bones rebuild and grow stronger) and is an essential compound in the fight against neural degeneration.
It also contains significant amounts of prebiotic fiber, the key to creating a bacteria-friendly environment in the gut.
Here you have it!
The above list of foods is all you need to get your calcium intake high—especially if you’re not getting enough of it in the first place.
So what are you waiting for?
Featured Image Credit – William Via Flickr