Highest Calcium Foods Chart: Guide to Meet Calcium Needs

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Calcium is a vital mineral for athletes that plays a crucial role in maintaining healthy bones, muscles and nerve function. Therefore our highest calcium foods chart is an easy resource for athletes to know how much calcium is in their favorite foods. 

Adequate calcium intake can help improve bone density, reduce the risk of fractures and other injuries, improve muscle performance and reduce the risk of cramping.

In this blog post, we will explain why calcium is important for athletes, how much calcium you need and give you a high calcium food list.

We will also provide a highest calcium foods chart that you can use as a reference to plan your soccer player diet.

highest calcium foods chart, picture of calcium containing foods with title

Why is calcium important for athletes?

Calcium is the most abundant mineral in your body because your skeleton is made of collagen and calcium. Your body stores most of its calcium in bones and teeth, where it provides strength and structure. 

Calcium also functions as an electrolyte within your body, carrying an electrical charge and playing a major role in regulating several of your body’s physiological processes. 

Processes such as heart activity, muscle contraction, nerve transmission, blood clotting and hormonal secretion rely on calcium.

Athletes need calcium because it is essential for the health of their bones, muscles, nerves, blood and heart. Calcium helps to prevent bone loss, muscle cramps, blood pressure fluctuations and irregular heartbeat. 

How much calcium do athletes need?

The amount of calcium you need depends on your age, sex and physical activity level. The recommended dietary allowances (RDAs) for calcium for all age groups are:

AgeRDA for Calcium (mg/day)
0-6 months200
7-12 months260
1-3 years700
4-8 years1000
9-13 years1300
14-18 years1300
19-50 years1000
51-70 years (men)1000
51-70 years (women)1200
71+ years1200
Source: USDA Nutrient Database

Source: National Institutes of Health

The best way to assess your calcium intake is to keep a food diary and use a nutrition calculator or app to track your intake. Use our highest calcium foods chart to find your favorite calcium-rich foods.

You can also consult with a registered sports dietitian nutritionist to get personalized advice on your calcium needs.

What are the best sources of calcium?

The best sources of calcium are foods that naturally contain or are fortified with calcium. Some examples of highest calcium containing foods are:

Dairy products

Dairy products are among the best sources of calcium because they also provide other nutrients that support bone health, such as protein, phosphorus, magnesium, zinc, vitamin D and vitamin K. High protein milk has even more calcium than regular milk.

Some examples of dairy products that are high in calcium are:

FoodServing SizeCalcium (mg)
Milk (skim, low fat, whole)1 cup300
High protein milk1 cup380
Chocolate milk1 cup280
Buttermilk1 cup300
Eggnog1 cup330
Dry milk1/4 cup330
Yogurt, plain, nonfat8 oz488
Yogurt, plain, low fat8 oz448
Low fat Greek plain yogurt8 oz260
Non fat Greek plain yogurt8 oz250
Kefir, plain, low fat1 cup317
Cottage cheese1 cup130
Cheese (cheddar, muenster)1 oz200
Cheese (parmesan, feta)1 oz300
Cheese (ricotta)1/2 cup340
Sour cream1/2 cup120
Ice cream or frozen yogurt1/2 cup100
Pudding or custard1/2 cup150
Whey protein isolate1.2 oz160
Source: USDA Nutrient Database

Plant based milk

Fortified plan based milks can be a good high calcium food source. So, make sure to check the food label to ensure it contains calcium and vitamin D.

FoodServing SizeCalcium (mg)
Soy milk, calcium fortified1 cup200 to 400
Soy milk yogurt, plain8 oz300
Almond milk, fortified1 cup300-450
Oat milk, fortified1 cup350
Rice milk, fortified1 cup284
Source: USDA Nutrient Database

Fish and seafood

Fish and seafood are another good source of calcium, especially if you eat them with the bones. Some examples of fish and seafood that are high in calcium are:

FoodServing SizeCalcium (mg)
Sardines (with bones)3 oz325
Salmon (with bones)3 oz180
Shrimp3 oz125
Oysters3 oz80
Source: USDA Nutrient Database

Fruits

Fruits are not only delicious but also provide some calcium, along with other vitamins, minerals and antioxidants. Some examples of fruits that are high in calcium are:

FoodServing SizeCalcium (mg)
Dried figs1/2 cup120
Oranges1 medium60
Kiwifruit1 medium30
Blackberries1 cup40
Grapefruit juice, 100%, fortified1 cup350
Orange juice, 100%, fortified1 cup350
Source: USDA Nutrient Database

Vegetables

Vegetables are low in calories but high in vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and fiber. They also provide some calcium, especially dark green leafy vegetables. Some examples of vegetables that are high in calcium are:

FoodServing SizeCalcium (mg)
Kale1 cup (cooked)180
Collard greens1 cup (cooked)260
Spinach1 cup (cooked)240
Bok choy1 cup (cooked)160
Broccoli1/2 cup90
Source: USDA Nutrient Database

Some vegetables have higher calcium content than others, and some may also have substances that can interfere with calcium absorption.

Look for dark green leafy vegetables, such as kale, collard greens, turnip greens, mustard greens, beet greens, bok choy and broccoli raab. These are some of the highest calcium vegetables, with more than 100 mg per cup cooked.

Oxalates and phytates are compounds that can bind to calcium and reduce its absorption. 

Tofu, beans, seeds and lentils

Beans and lentils are excellent sources of plant-based protein, fiber, iron, folate, and calcium. They can be used in soups, salads, dips, and curries. Some examples of beans and lentils that are high in calcium are:

FoodServing SizeCalcium (mg)
Soybeans (cooked)1 cup260
Tofu (prepared with calcium sulfate)1/2 cup430
Tempeh1/2 cup95
Tahini (sesame seed butter)1 tbsp154
Edamame (green soybeans)1/2 cup50
Navy beans (cooked)1 cup125
Black beans (cooked)1 cup100
Kidney beans (cooked)1 cup75
Chickpeas (cooked)1 cup80
Lentils (cooked)1 cup40
Hummus1/4 cup60
Source: USDA Nutrient Database

Fortified foods

Some common athlete snacks are fortified with calcium and other vitamins and minerals. The amount varies by brand and type so you should always check the nutrition facts panel for the most accurate information.

Food Serving SizeCalcium (mg)
Cold breakfast cereal1 cup250 to 1000
Bread1 slice150-200
Granola bar1 bar50 to 200
Energy bar1 bar100 to 300
Crackers5 crackers50 to 150
Cookies2 cookies50 to 100
Pretzels10 pretzels50 to 100
Source: USDA Nutrient Database

Highest Calcium Foods Chart, list of foods and calcium content, printable chart

How to incorporate calcium into your diet

Now that you know the best sources of calcium, you may wonder how to incorporate them into your diet. Here are some tips and ideas to help you increase your calcium intake:

  • Start your day with a calcium-rich breakfast. Have a bowl of fortified cereal with milk or yogurt, a glass of fortified orange juice or a smoothie made with yogurt, high protein milk and fruits.
  • Snack on calcium-rich foods throughout the day. You can have cheese cubes, yogurt cups, cottage cheese, almonds, dried figs or sesame bars.
  • Add calcium-rich foods to your salads, sandwiches, soups, and casseroles. Use cheese, tofu, kale, broccoli, sardines, salmon or almonds as ingredients or toppings.
  • Enjoy calcium-rich desserts such as ice cream, pudding, custard or chocolate milk.
  • Choose calcium-fortified foods and beverages, such as orange juice, soy milk, cereals and breads.
  • Eat foods that are high in vitamin D, such as fatty fish, egg yolks and mushrooms. Vitamin D helps your body absorb calcium better.

High calcium foods FAQ

Yes, you can get enough calcium from non-dairy sources if you eat a variety of calcium-rich foods every day. Some of the best non-dairy sources of calcium are leafy green vegetables, beans, tofu, nuts, seeds, and fortified foods. You can also take a calcium supplement if your diet is low in calcium.

Some plant foods contain substances that can reduce the absorption of calcium, such as oxalates and phytates. To increase the absorption of calcium from plant foods, you can do the following:

  • Cook or soak the plant foods to reduce the amount of oxalates and phytates.
  • Eat plant foods with vitamin C-rich foods, such as citrus fruits, tomatoes, peppers, or broccoli. Vitamin C can enhance the absorption of calcium.
  • Eat plant foods with vitamin D-rich foods, such as fatty fish, eggs, mushrooms, or fortified foods. Vitamin D can also enhance the absorption of calcium.

If you are lactose intolerant, you may need to avoid or limit dairy products that contain lactose, such as milk, cheese, and ice cream.

However, you can still get enough calcium from other dairy products that are low in lactose or lactose-free, such as yogurt, hard cheese or lactose-free milk. You can also get calcium from non-dairy sources.

The amount of calcium you need depends on your age and sex. You can refer to the table above for the recommended dietary allowances for calcium.

Final thoughts

Calcium is an important mineral for youth athletes, since it helps maintain strong bones and teeth, supports muscle and nerve function, and protects against osteoporosis.

Youth athletes should aim to get enough calcium from their diet by eating a variety of calcium-rich foods from this highest calcium foods chart and beyond, every day.

You can find ways to include high calcium foods in snacks and meals, such as chocolate milk for a recovery drink and yogurt and berries for a healthy snack.

Dairy products are the best sources of calcium, but there are also many non-dairy sources that can provide adequate amounts of calcium.

If you have any questions or concerns about your calcium intake or bone health, you should consult your doctor or a registered sports dietitian nutritionist.

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