Micronutrients

Calcium Containing Foods

Calcium Containing Foods

In this article, I have given detailed information about Calcium containing foods that are easily available to the general public. Calcium rich foods must be added to our eating list, the role of calcium is vital for proper functioning of the human body.

Calcium Containing Foods
Calcium Containing Foods

List of Calcium Containing Foods-Calcium Rich Foods

NameServing/dayCalories
Milk 250ml(1cup)42
Cheese 50g(1/2 oz)402
Bread1 slice128
Yogurt175g(3/4 cup)59
Lentils2-3cups116
Okra½ cup 33
Collard greens1-1/2 cups32
Broccoli½ cup34
Cabbage4-5 cups25
Kale1 cup33
Beans1 cup347
Figs¼ cup70.49
Seeds1 ounce559
Almond butter2 tbsp614
Fish2.5 ounces or 75g206

Importance of calcium:

Calcium is the most important mineral for the growth of the human body, 99% of all the calcium in the body is found in bones and teeth. Remaining 1% is found in blood. Calcium plays important roles such as

  • Helps in nerve conduction
  • Helps in normal muscle contraction and relaxation
  • Helps in normal blood clotting
  • Helps in intracellular signaling
  • Helps in Hormonal transmission
  • Helps in the formation of strong bones
  • Formation of strong and healthy teeth
  • Regulate cell secretions and cell division
  • Helps the body by carrying out enzymatic reactions

In fact, bones and teeth are the reservoirs of calcium. Calcium helps in healthy bone growth and better teeth health. So calcium is very important for growing children and also for adults.

  • Absorption of calcium:

Calcium is best absorbed when the requirement is high and the intake is low. Vitamin D is best for the absorption of calcium which can be obtained by the exposure to sunlight. Skin’s “Melanin” facilitates the inactive form of vitamin D3 to be converted into the active form. The changes take place during this conversion is the breakdown of the double bond between C9 and C10 of Beta-ring and intramolecular arrangement of double bonds. Read here about Malnutrition.

  • 99 percent of the calcium is absorbed in bones and teeth
  • 9 percent of calcium is absorbed in soft tissues and in bloodstreams.
  • 1 percent of calcium is absorbed In extracellular fluid

RDA (Recommended Daily Allowance) of calcium:

Amount of Calcium required by Human Body at different age groups. 

Here I have described RDA of calcium and how much calcium is required by the human body at different age groups levels.

Age MaleFemale
0-6 months200mg200mg
7-12 months260mg260mg
1-3 years700mg700mg
4-8 years1000mg1000mg
9-13years1300mg1300mg
14-18 years1300mg1300mg
19-50 years1000mg1000mg
51-70 years1000mg1000mg
71+1200mg1200mg

So, calcium is very important in early life for skeletal growth and gives significant effects in later life. Always remember that less amount of calcium is absorbed better than a large amount of calcium in the body.A large amount of calcium in the body is not absorbed as such.Small servings of calcium along with vitamin D absorbs in a better way because vitamin D helps in calcium absorption.

  • Hindrance in Calcium absorption:

Iron hinders calcium absorption. Food combination of iron along with calcium is very bad. They both will be of no use if taken together. Also, the absorption of calcium is less than 70% of calcium entering into the gut.

  • Calcium and health:

Calcium is an abundant mineral found in great abundance in the body.99% of calcium is found in bones and teeth and 1% is found in blood.It has many important functions in the body to perform. If levels of calcium decrease from the normal value, then calcium will be taken from bones and put into the blood to maintain blood calcium levels. So, it is very necessary to consume enough calcium to maintain adequate blood and bone calcium levels.

Sources of Vitamin A

  • How Is Calcium stored in the body?

  • Bones stores:

Bones of an average adult constitute about 14 percent of total body weight and bone minerals 4 percent. Men accumulate more skeletal calcium (1200mg) than females (1000mg). Approximately, one-fifth of this (21 percent) is in the skull, half (51percent) is in arms and legs and  the remaining 28 percent in the trunk ( ribs 9 percent, pelvis 8 percent, spine 11percent). Read here about Celiac Disease.

  • Peak bone mass:-
  • The heaviest bone mass an individual can achieve is called their peak bone mass (PBM).This is generally reached in 18-20 years of age, although some re searches have concluded that the age at which peak bone mass is attained varies between individuals
  • So, calcium is very much important for healthy bones.
  • Excretion of calcium:-

Calcium is excreted primarily in urine and feces. A number of factors are thought to increase the calcium loss through urine, this includes:

  • Intake of caffeine

Caffeine intake is positively associated with bone loss.

  • Intake of protein

Although protein is very essential for bone formation. Bone is approximately 50% protein by volume but increasing dietary protein in a very large amount increases calcium excretion.

  • Intake of sodium
  • Low estrogen level

Foods rich in calcium: Calcium Containing Foods

Milk

Milk is one of the best, richest and most of all the cheapest source of calcium. A cup of cow milk provides 276-352 mg of calcium. Calcium in dairy products is well absorbed . Also; milk is the best source of vitamin D and proteins.

Goat milk is also another good source of calcium and it gives 327 mg per cup.

  • Milk Products
  • Milk products are the good source of calcium and are well absorbed.

Cheese

Cheese is a milk product that is good in calcium .Soft cheese has less calcium than hard cheese. Full fat cheese is a rich source of calories and fats. So, be aware of these things while purchasing a cheese . Some cheese are full of sodium and some people are sensitive to sodium so they must avoid that kind of cheese containing more sodium.

Breads

Bakery goods or anything made of fortified flour.

Yoghurt

Yogurt is full of robotics or live bacteria you can say, has many benefits on health. One cup of yogurt (245g) contains 30% of RDI . Yogurt lowers the risk of metabolic diseases e.g. heart diseases and type 2 diabetes.

  • Kefir
  • Food sources of calcium other than milk and milk products:-

Dark green leafy vegetables

  • Okra
  • Kale
  • Collard greens
  • Cabbage
  • Kelp
  • Broccoli
  • Spinach

Some vegetables are rich in oxalates that sometimes bind with calcium and inhibit calcium from absorbing into the human body. Same is the case with spinach.So; Spinach is not a very good source of calcium because the availability of calcium in spinach is very low because of oxalates. Read here about Sources of Vitamin E.

  • Sea weeds
  • Tofu
  • Soya beans
  • Soy drinks
  • Beans
  • Lentils

Lentils are high in proteins and fibers buts some are the best source of calcium.

  • Seeds

E.g. poppy seeds , chia seeds, sesame

1 tbsp (15g) of poppy seeds has 126mg/13% of their RDI

Chia seeds are the good source of omega 3

  • Nuts

e.g. Pistachio , Hazelnuts, almonds.

Almonds are the richest in calcium of al nuts. One ounce of almonds and 22 other nuts provide the same 8% RDI. Nuts are also the best source of vitamin E. Nuts also helps to lower the blood pressure and maintain calcium levels.

  • Almond butter
  • Beans

Beans are full of fibers and micronutrients also some beans are rich in calcium for example winged beans and white beans

  • Figs

Especially, dry figs are the richest source of calcium. It contains more calcium than any other dry fruit. Dried figs are also rich in fibers and antioxidants which are very beneficial for our body.

  • Dandelion leaves
  • Fishes: sardines and canned salmons

Fishes are the best source of omega 3 and also rich in high-quality protein that is very beneficial for human health. Sardines and salmons are full of calcium. Read here about Sources of Vitamin C.

  • Beverages fortified with calcium:-

Many drinks fortified with calcium are:

Soy milk

Orange juice

  • Calcium rich mineral water:-

Calcium-rich mineral water may provide a calorie-free calcium and is a good source.Researches have shown that absorption of calcium from mineral water is equal or slightly better than absorption of calcium from milk. Biomarkers of calcium absorption indicated significant calcium absorption in the meta- analysis of 6 studies, calcium absorption from mineral water was found to be significantly higher than calcium absorption from milk and the bioavailability of calcium is also good in calcium rich mineral water. Read here about Causes of Obesity.

  • Calcium supplements:-

Different tablets or supplements of calcium are now easily available in the market . Calcium supplementation can play a valuable role in bone health throughout the life cycle . In bone health, it is a paramount not only to ensure adequate calcium intake but also intake but also intake of adequate vitamin D and other micronutrients important to bone health.Calcium from carbonate and citrate should be the forms of choice for supplementation. Calcium carbonate is cost-effective but should be taken with meals to optimize absorption but is sometimes non-advisable.

  • Calcium for bone health:

Bones increases its size and weight during growth in childhood and adolescence and reach to its peak bone mass at age 30. The greater the peak bone mass is, the longer a person would retain healthy bones and will not go through bone diseases in his later life . Everyone should therefore consume the adequate amount of calcium along with vitamin D throughout childhood, adolescence and early adulthood.

  • Osteoporosis:-

Osteoporosis is a disorder characterized by porous and fragile bones. It is a very serious public health problem, 80% of which occur to females, just because of very less calcium intake in their diets. It is characterized by the decrease in bone mineral density, bone calcium content and an increased risk of fractures. Osteoporosis is most associated with the fractures of:

  • Hip
  • Vertebra
  • Wrist
  • Pelvis
  • Ribs
  • Bones

When calcium intake is very low and the calcium is not absorbing properly bone breakdown starts and the body uses its stored calcium to maintain other biological functions .Bone loss also occurs as a part of normal aging process. It is occurs mostly in post menopausal women because of low estrogen levels. You must focus on your Nutrition.

Osteoporosis risk factors that cannot be changed:-

  • Being female
  • Being postmenopausal
  • Having a small skeleton
  • A family history of osteoporosis
  • Advanced age

Osteoporosis risk factors that can be changed:-

  • Inadequate or excessive intake of nutrients
  • Sedentary lifestyle
  • Low body weight
  • Cigarette smoking
  • Medications with negative effects
  • Drinking large amounts of alcohol

Treatment:

There are different treatments for this, like weight-bearing exercises, regular exercises, adequate intake of calcium and vitamin D .There are different tests for this for example BMD that is Bone mineral density test. Supplementation of calcium along with vitamin D has been shown to be effective in reducing fractures.

  • Osteopenia:-

Osteopenia is characterized by decreased bone density but it is not as severe as osteoporosis and it also occurs mostly in women. This leads to fragile bones and further leads to fractures. Osteomalacia, osteomyelitis, and osteoarthritis are usually confused with osteopenia because of the similar names but osteopenia is a completely different thing as compared to these diseases. It is because of calcium and vitamin D deficiency and low blood phosphate levels. Read here about Vitamin B12 Foods.

  • Risk factors for osteopenia:-
    • Genetic disorders
    • Hormonal causes
    • Smoking
    • Excess alcohol intake
    • Immobility
    • Thin skeleton
    • Certain medications
    • Inflammation in bones
  • Signs and symptoms of osteopenia:-
    • Osteopenia is not a painful situation until a fracture occurs .In osteopenia patients, there is no pain always.Different types of fractures occur in this case, like hip and vertebra fractures that are very painful. In addition to this, continuous back pain and vertebral fractures causes bowed back.
  • Diagnosis of osteopenia
    • X-ray absorptiometry scan or DEXA scan

DXA or DEXA scan is very accurate and it also tells about any future risk for osteopenia.

  • Bone mineral density(BMD) test
  • Peripheral dual energy X-ray absorptiometry
  • Quantitative computed tomography(QCT)
  • Peripheral QCT
  • Quantitative ultrasound densitometry
  • Treatment of osteopenia
    • Avoid smoking
    • Avoid alcohol
    • Weight bearing exercises
    • Walk daily
    • Proper calcium and vitamin D intake

Rickets:

Rickets is a disease in children that is caused just because of less calcium, vitamin D or phosphate. In this condition, children have weak and soft bones, skeletal deformities and stunted growth. In this case, little amount of calcium is not absorbing in the body because of less vitamin D. You can take vitamin D from sunlight exposure and also from food sources like milk, eggs and fish. Milk has vitamin D in it which is lost at very high temperature, so it is good to give just one boil to milk and cool it immediately so that vitamin D should not loss, also there are milks available in the market which are fortified with vitamin D. Rickets is most common among the children between the age of 6 and 36 months. Similarly, vegetarians who don’t take milk and milk products are at risk of rickets. This disease is mostly in developing countries and almost disappeared in developed countries.

Risk factors for developing rickets:

  • Age
  • Diet
  • Skin color
  • Geographic location
  • Genes

Symptoms of rickets

  • Pain or tenderness in bones
  • Stunted growth
  • Tooth diseases
  • Muscle cramps
  • Bone fractures
  • Skeletal deformities including bow legs, curved spine

Diagnosis of rickets

  • Bone X rays to check bone deformities
  • Blood test to measure calcium levels
  • Bone biopsy( very rare)
  • How calcium help you grow taller

It is possible to grow taller because of calcium because calcium helps bones to grow and making them strong.But this all, not require calcium only but also your diet, lifestyle and habits. It depends upon your exercise and stretching of muscles. Most of all X-ray of bones is being done to know that if the growing centers of bone are open or not, if they are open, there is a good chance to increase your height but if growing centers are closed, and then there is no chance to grow taller. It is said that you can grow taller till 24 years or your age.

  • Calcium for healthy teeth:

Calcium is essential for the formation and maintenance of healthy teeth also. A person is at greater risk of developing tooth diseases if his diet lacks calcium because in this case, the body starts extracting calcium from teeth also and teeth become weak and fragile. So diets that lack calcium will lead a person towards the gum and teeth diseases. The maintenance and health of jaw bone are also at risk in the case of very low calcium. Less calcium lead towards teeth loosening so calcium is very much important for teeth, maintaining a healthy jaw bone and holding the teeth at their proper place and avoids teeth loosening. Calcium and phosphorus both play an important part in tooth health.

Children need the adequate amount of calcium and phosphorus because their teeth are forming and the calcium and phosphorus deposit inside the teeth at their growing age which leads to healthier teeth throughout life . Besides this, the composition of tooth enamel has calcium in it

  • How is calcium related to lactose intolerance?

What is lactose intolerance:

  • Milk and milk products are the richest sources of calcium but milk and milk products have lactose in it and some people can’t tolerate the milk sugar lactose. So, the inability to breakdown the milk sugar lactose is called as lactose intolerance. Lactose is made up of 2 molecules that are glucose and galactose. Lactose intolerance is also called as lactose malabsorption or lactose non-persistence. Cause of lactose malabsorption:-

Cause of lactose intolerance is the insufficiency of lactase enzyme due to different factors. Other causes are

  • Congenital causes
  • Secondary causes
  • Genetically programmed causes
  • Symptoms of lactose intolerance:-
  1. Bloating
  2. Diarrhea
  3. Nausea
  4. Flatulence
  5. Abdominal cramping

Symptoms are the same for children and adults

  • Types of lactose intolerance

  • Mild
  • Severe

Depends upon the amount of lactose present in the gut.  Refer to the list of Calcium Containing Foods.

  • Sources of lactose
  1. Cow milk
  2. Evaporated milk
  3. Condensed milk
  • Other sources
  1. Ice cream
  2. Cheese
  3. Soft served frozen yogurt
  4. Puddings
  5. Custard
  6. Ricotta
  • Hidden sources:-
  1. Baked goods
  2. Bread
  3. Waffles
  4. Margarine
  5. Candies
  6. Biscuits
  7. Cookies
  8. Antacids and birth control pills
  • Awareness:-

Always read the labels of products while purchasing so that to avoid the products having lactose in its ingredients list.

  • Tests for lactose intolerance:-
  1. Hydrogen breath test
  2. Other tests
  3. Intestinal biopsy
  4. Blood glucose test
  5. Genetic testing
  6. Stool acidity test (for children)
  • Dietary changes
  1. Reduce lactose in the diet
  2. Eliminate milk, cheese, yogurt and ice creams.
  3. Take lactose-free foods

Mild lactose intolerant patient can take yogurt because yogurt contains a large number of active cultures or live bacteria that have already digested half amount of lactose already. Also, yogurt pas out from the gut late and colon bacteria take more time to digest it and also lactase enzyme can easily break the small amount of lactose ingested at that time.

  • Food items you can take in lactose intolerance

  1. Low-fat yogurt
  2. Low-fat kefir
  3. Lactose-free butter

Supplements:-

Lactase enzyme tablets with lactose containing foods.

  • Hypocalcemia:

  • Causes of hypocalcemia:-
  1. Hereditary disease
  2. Very less absorption of calcium
  3. Malnutrition
  4. Diabetes
  5. Increased calcium excretion

Symptoms of hypocalcemia

  1. Nervous system disorders
  2. Respiratory system disorders
  3. Cardiovascular system disorders
  • Complications of hypocalcemia
  1. Abnormal heartbeat
  2. Eye dysfunction
  3. Fragile bones
  4. Osteoporosis
  • Diagnosis of hypocalcemia
  1. Blood electrolyte
  2. Pancreatic enzyme test
  3. Kidney function test
  4. Parathyroid hormone study
  5. Vitamin D level test
  • Treatment of hypocalcemia
  1. Oral calcium
  2. Oral vitamin D
  3. Intravenous calcium injection
  • Hypercalcemia:-

It is a condition in which there is the excess quantity of calcium in the blood. This condition create difficulties in body to carry out its different functions so this is life threatening.

  • Symptoms
  • Head ache
  • Fatigue
  • Kidney stones and other kidney problems
  • Abnormal heart rhythms
  • Abdominal pain and other discomforts
  • Memory loss
  • Irritability
  • Bone pain
  • Muscle cramps
  • Weakness

Diagnosis:-

  1. CT scan
  2. DEXA bone mineral density test
  3. Chest X ray
  4. MRI scan
  5. Mammograms
  • Treatment
  1. There are different medications for treatment
  2. Dialysis of the kidney is being done to remove extra calcium from the body.

General tests to check low and high levels of calcium in the body

  • Ionized calcium blood test

Usually, in this test, the blood sample is taken from your arm through the help of a syringe and the amount of free calcium is calculated in the blood.

  • Also, the calcium urine levels are measured for calculating calcium in the body.
  • These both tests are used to check the low or high amount of calcium in the body.

So, everyone should consume the adequate amount of calcium for his healthy bones and teeth and also for the proper functioning of the whole body , one must not take the extra amounts of calcium other than the body needs but should maintain a balance for meeting the normal requirement for his or her body.

About the Author:

My name is Dilawaiz Zehra. I am doing BS in Nutrition and Dietetics.I am pretty much interested to know about nutrition in every food and drink. Because we are, what we consume.

 “From the bitterness of disease, man learn the sweetness of health”.               

So, this urged me to write a complete focused article about calcium containing foods, telling about its absorption through vitamin D, to help others know about this. Calcium along with iron doesn’t absorb at all and many of us didn’t know about this wrong combination and this is the leading cause of bone diseases in children and also in adults like osteoporosis etc.
So, i hope this article will give you all, a complete guidance about calcium, calcium containing foods and their good and bad combination with vitamins.Hopefully, you will learn about the importance of calcium in our body from my article and help to eliminate bone diseases like rickets, osteoporosis etc from our society.

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17 Comments

  1. A.o.A..! My name is Alina Ejaz.I am student of bs(hons) in human nutrition and diets.I read this article of calcium containing food.I came to know about many new foods that contain calcium specially figs.The source of calcium that I m using on daily basis is bread and yogurt.

  2. Aoa.. Well written article.. Very useful especially for a nutrition student.. On daily basis I consume bread as a source of calcium.. Other sources include cheese, cabbage ,spinach, yogurt, lentils and some milk products.. Zernaab Waseem

    1. Aoa. My name is Aneeqa Ilyas .The above article is very helpful and it contain all necessary information related to calcium and calcium products . On daily basis I consume bread and milk ,and sometimes yogurt also. while it’s other sources are green leafy vegetables like broccoli cabbage etc.

  3. It was a good article at daily basis we consume milk bread n green leafy vegetables as a calcium source

  4. Aoa! My name is Hira Naqvi. This article’s providing all the basic info regarding Calcium to maintain its good level in body. The food that contain calcium and that I consume on daily basis is milk .Other than milk is yogurt and bread .Thank you!

  5. Aoa! I am.also a student of BSc hons HND …This article provides all the information regarding calcium and also tells us how calcium is important for us.Food that I contain daily is milk,bread,yogurt and green vegetables..THANK.U!

  6. My name is Maryam Gul and I am a student of nutrition..
    I have thoroughly studied this article .. it covers every aspect related to calcium like it’s importance, RDA, absorption, sources , deficiencies etc…
    I consume milk, bread, beans,green vegetables, lentils and some nuts on a daily basis to fulfill my Calcium requirement…

  7. Assalam-0-Alaikum
    I m Sania Saleem.. Student of Bsc hons in Human Nutrition and Dietetics…
    This article is good and very informative and explain all the things regarding calcium..
    The calcium containing foods which I consume are Milk, Lentils, Green vegetables.. Thank u

  8. AoA….my name is rimsha nazir….i m student of nutrition….i read this article this is very informative….on daily basis i consume ca food such as milk yougurt…green vegetbales etc thanku…..

  9. Aoa! I m Kashmala Jabbar… Student of Human Nutrition And Dietetics. I read this articke . its all about calcium and the things related to it. I consumed milk on daily basis ..a source of calcium.

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