Calcium is an essential mineral for life. It is important for strong bones and teeth, clotting of blood, muscle function, nerve conduction and many more biological functions. As we grow older, calcium becomes an important element in our diet to help protect against thinning of the bones (osteoporosis). Which food is high in calcium? Milk products are a good source of calcium, but you can also find it in a lot of other common foods. See the table below to learn which foods are high in calcium.
Food high in Calcium
|Food||Amount||Calcium (in milligrams)|
|Cheese (cheddar)||1 oz||200|
|Figs, dried||1 cup||300|
|Tofu, soft||4 oz||120|
|Garbanzo beans||1 cup||80|
|Pinto beans||1 cup||75|
|White beans||1 cup||140|
|Brown rice||1 cup||50|
|NUTS & SEEDS|
|Sesame seeds||1 oz||280|
|Sunflower seeds||1 oz||50|
How much Calcium do I need?
There are various theories for how much calcium each person needs per day. In the past, 1000 mg per day was recommended for women younger than 50 and 1200 mg for older women. The World Health Organization however recommends a lower amount of about 500 mg per day. It seems a calcium intake of less than 1000 mg per day is optimal.
One point to note is that some good sources of calcium such as cheese can also raise your cholesterol levels. So make sure you choose the right types of food to balance your calcium intake. You can read more about how to lower your cholesterol here.
Can Calcium supplements cause harm?
As with everything in the endocrine system, too much calcium is as harmful as too little calcium. A large health research study called Women’s Health Initiative showed that taking 1000 mg of calcium and 400 IU of vitamin D per day did not lower the risk of fractures in women compared to those who did not take any calcium. However, the density of their hip bones did increase slightly. Unfortunately, the research also showed a slightly higher risk of kidney stones in those taking calcium and vitamin D. It seems that high doses of calcium from supplements increases the excretion of calcium in urine. This in turn leads to a higher risk of kidney stones.
In 2011, a large study linked calcium supplementation with a slightly higher risk of a heart attack in women. Based on the current research evidence, it seems best to avoid excessive use of calcium supplements. It may be best to focus on increasing calcium in your food rather than taking calcium supplements.