- Dairy Products: Milk remains the best
dietary source of calcium, partly because vitamin D is added to enhance
- Gram for gram, non-fat plain yogurt has
more calcium than milk, although it contains no vitamin D.
- Hard cheese, high or low in fat, is quite
rich in calcium. Ricotta cheese is also an excellent source, but cottage
cheese is not nearly as good a source as milk and yogurt unless calcium
- Vegetables: Some of the best vegetable
sources of calcium include kale, collard greens, turnip greens, mustard
greens, Chinese cabbage, chicory and bok choy. Broccoli, chard and acorn
squash, though not as rich in calcium, are more common sources.
- Although spinach has a lot of calcium,
it also contains a substance -- oxalic acid -- that binds up its calcium
and prevents absorption of all but about 5 per cent of it. However, the
oxalic acid in spinach and foods such as rhubarb does not interfere with
absorption of calcium from other foods eaten at the same time. Phytic acid,
another substance in foods such as dried beans and peas, also depresses
calcium absorption somewhat, but less than oxalic acid.
- Most forms of fibre have little or no
effect on calcium absorption. But wheat bran can partly block absorption
of calcium from other foods, such as the milk added to a bowl of bran cereal.
- Other foods: Canned sardines with their
bones included are especially rich in calcium -- 85 grams of sardines have
more calcium than a cup of milk. Canned salmon with bones is about half
as good. Other sources include dry-roasted soybeans, blackstrap molasses,
figs, some beans and peas, poppy and sesame seeds, almonds, oranges and
calcium-fortified orange juice. The acid in the juice enhances calcium
absorption, and is especially good for older people short on stomach acid.
- Supplements: As long as the maximum does
not exceed a total of 2,000 milligrams of calcium a day from food and pills,
supplementation appears to be safe, except for people who tend to form
calcium-containing kidney stones.
- When buying a calcium supplement, check
the label for the amount of elemental calcium in each tablet, not the total
weight, to calculate the amount of calcium being consumed.
- Calcium citrate, one of the most digestible
calcium supplements, is the preferred supplement for older people who are
deficient in stomach acid. It should be taken between meals. Avoid natural
sources of calcium such as bone meal, oyster shell or dolomite, since they
may contain harmful contaminants.
- If taking iron or a multivitamin with
iron, take calcium at a different time since it interferes with iron absorption.
The New York Times