Calcium Sources


How can I get the recommended amount of calcium from the foods I eat?

It is best to get calcium from the foods you eat. Your body uses calcium best in small amounts (600 mg or less at one time). Space out the calcium you eat over the day by choosing a calcium-rich food or beverage at each meal or snack. Examples of calcium-rich foods include dairy foods, non-dairy foods, and calcium fortified foods (foods with calcium added).

Dairy Foods: Dairy foods are rich natural sources of calcium and the major food source of calcium for Americans. For overall health, it is important to choose fat-free or low fat dairy foods. MyPlate (, the U.S. Department of Agriculture's food guidance system for Americans recommends that people aged 9 years and older eat 3 cups or more of foods from the milk group per day [3]. A cup is equal to 1 cup (8 ounces) of milk, 1 cup of yogurt, 1.5 ounces of natural cheese (such as Cheddar), or 2 ounces of processed cheese (such as American).

  • Milk (1% fat or less)
  • Yogurt (1% fat or less)
  • Cheese (5 grams fat or less per ounce)

Non-dairy foods: Non-dairy foods also include rich sources of natural calcium but they are eaten less frequently in the typical American diet.

  • Figs, dried
  • Greens (dandelion, bok choy or chinese cabbage, collard, kale, mustard, turnip), cooked
  • Salmon, Sardines, canned and eaten with the bones
  • Soy nuts or almonds

Fortified foods: Fortified foods are not naturally rich in calcium but calcium is added to the food during its processing. It is important to read food labels to select foods with calcium added. Beverages fortified with calcium need to be shaken before drinking to prevent calcium from settling at the bottom of the container.

  • Breakfast bars
  • Cereals and cereal bars
  • Granola bars
  • Juices
  • Rice milk
  • Soy milk
  • Tofu
  • Waffles