Spring Into Spring With A Calcium-Rich Diet

Calcium is critical to bone health. We tell you how much calcium your body needs every day, and help you determine whether your diet includes the calcium-rich foods you need.

It’s been a long, cold winter, and our Twin Cities community is more than ready to welcome milder spring weather. As the snow melts and the temperatures rise, we are all anticipating outdoor pleasures like the opening of our neighborhood farmers’ markets. Fresh produce isn’t just a herald of warm sunny days; it is also a wonderful source of the calcium our bodies need. Take time now to evaluate your daily menu, so you can take full advantage of the calcium-rich produce that will soon be available at neighborhood farmers’ markets.

Our bodies need calcium to develop and maintain healthy bones, but how much do we need, exactly? The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has developed recommended Daily Values (DV) of nutrients to help us assess nutrients in the context of our daily diet. Although the recommended dietary allowances of calcium vary, and are greatest between the ages of 9 and 18, when our bones are developing, generally, a diet containing 1,000 mg of calcium per day is considered healthy.

We have a variety of calcium-rich foods to choose from as we plan menus that are good for our bones. We’ve listed a few of the best options, including serving sizes and the amount of calcium in each serving.

  • Plain low-fat yogurt. One cup of yogurt delivers 415 mg of calcium, making it one of the most calcium-rich options you can choose. Keep in mind that calcium content varies slightly by fat content; more fat means less calcium.
  • Nonfat milk. An 8-ounce glass of milk delivers 299 mg of calcium; 8 ounces of whole milk contains 276 mg. Pour it over a calcium-fortified cereal, and breakfast may deliver all the calcium you need for the day.
  • Orange juice. If your juice is calcium-fortified, 6 ounces is packed with a bone healthy 261 mg.
  • Blackstrap molasses. This sweetener packs a double nutrient whammy. In addition to being rich in potassium, 1 tablespoon of molasses contains about 137 mg of calcium.
  • Kale. During the summer, farmers’ market tables are heaped with this popular leafy green. Raw or cooked, kale is one of the best vegetable sources of calcium. A cup of raw chopped kale contains 100 mg, and a cup of fresh cooked kale gives you 94 mg. Kale chips, anyone?
  • Bok choy (Chinese cabbage). When you want to another calcium-rich leafy option, consider bok choy. Served raw and shredded, one cup delivers 74 mg of calcium.
  • Almonds. These nuts make a terrific snack. Grab a handful of almonds—23 nuts to be exact—and boost your calcium intake by 75 mg.
  • Chocolate pudding. This treat will satisfy your sweet tooth and contribute to healthy bones. A half-cup of ready-to-eat refrigerated chocolate pudding contains 55 mg of calcium.

Every meal of the day is an opportunity to satisfy your body’s calcium requirements. Incorporating knowledgeable choices into your food selections is an easy and delicious way to ensure that your bones get the calcium they need.

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