Although calcium nutritional supplements are easily available, doctors and nutritionists are unclear if they work. Calcium needs vitamin D in order for the body to be able to digest it. People usually get enough vitamin D through exposure to sunlight and through their diet. Because supplements are an unreliable form of calcium, experts agree that the best sources of calcium are in certain foods.
One of the best sources of calcium is milk and other dairy products. Breeds of cows that produce the most milk often have skeletal problems from having their bone calcium diverted to milk production. Although this is bad news for cows, its good news for people who drink cows’ milk and eat products made from cows’ milk such as yogurt, cottage cheese, whey powder and ice cream. However, vegans are opposed to exploiting animals and so need other nutritional sources of calcium.
Some foods are made fortified with vitamin D and calcium. These include nutritional snack bars, hot cocoa mixes, breakfast cereals, orange juice, tofu and soy milk. Soybeans do contain calcium but they are often fortified with extra calcium due to public demand. Always read the nutritional label of fortified foods to be sure how much calcium and vitamin D is in one serving.
Fish like salmon, whitebait, herring, mackerels, tuna and sardines are natural sources of calcium. The calcium is located in the fish bones, so be very careful when eating the fish. Bones in small sardines or sardine-sized mackerels are often quite soft and easy to swallow. They also contain vitamin D. This is not a good choice for vegetarians or vegans.
Nuts and Seeds
Sources of calcium that will appeal to many vegetarians, vegans and carnivores are from numerous nuts and seeds. Nuts containing the most calcium are hazel nuts, Brazil nuts, almonds and walnuts. Nut butters (except for peanut butter) also contain calcium. Brazil nuts contain the best nut sources of calcium available. 100 grams of Brazil nuts contains more than a day’s supply of calcium. Sesame seeds, flax seeds, lotus seeds, poppy seeds and celery seeds are the only seeds known to contain calcium.
Dark Green Vegetables
Many dark green vegetables contain calcium. These include arugula, peas, spinach, broccoli, cabbage, okra, green beans, dandelion greens, turnip greens, collard greens, mustard greens and watercress. Celery also contains some calcium but usually isn’t dark green in color. Curly kale contains a whopping 143 milligrams of calcium per 95 gram serving. Other vegetables aren’t even close.
Some other vegetables contain calcium, although in not as large quantities as in green vegetables. These vegetables include parsnips, chick peas) also called garbanzo beans) and kidney beans. The humble baked bean contains 72 milligrams of calcium per 135 gram serving.
Bread or other bread products made with whole grains are other sources of calcium. Chili powder contains a minute amount of calcium. Herbs such as fresh or dried thyme, marjoram, sage, peppermint, spearmint, oregano, chervil and basil also contain calcium and can be mixed with other calcium rich foods.