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How to Increase Your Calcium Intake

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Updated June 08, 2014

Written or reviewed by a board-certified physician. See About.com's Medical Review Board.

How to increase calcium
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Consuming three cups of dairy products each day should provide you with enough calcium. One cup of dairy is equal to one cup of milk, one cup of yogurt or 1.5 to 2.0 ounces of cheese (about the size of two dominoes).

Most adults need from 1,000 to 1,200 milligrams (mg) calcium per day and teenagers need about 1,300 mg per day. Your body also needs adequate amounts of vitamin D to be able to absorb calcium properly.

Consume More Calcium

  • Add dry milk powder to soups and sauces.
  • Drink milk as a beverage.
  • Use low- or non-fat milk in smoothies.
  • Eat low- or non-fat yogurt as a snack or for dessert.
  • Top cooked vegetables with cheese.
  • Add a slice of cheese to a sandwich.

But I Don't Do Dairy Products

You don't have to consume dairy products to get enough calcium. Vegans don't consume any form of animal products including milk, cheese or other dairy products. People with lactose intolerance can't digest milk sugar properly, and some people just don' t like dairy products. 

Non-dairy sources include green leafy vegetables, broccoli, whole sardines, soy and other legumes, and nuts.

  • one cup raw kale has 90 mg calcium
  • one cup of pinto beans 80 mg calcium
  • three ounces of canned salmon with bones has 180 mg calcium
  • one cup of tofu (soy) yogurt has 310 mg calcium
  • three ounces of canned sardines has 330 mg calcium
  • one-half cup cooked turnip greens has 100 mg calcium
  • one cup of chopped broccoli has 43 mg calcium

You can also buy calcium-fortified orange juice, breakfast cereal, soy milk and rice beverages.

Calcium-Rich Recipes

Some of these include dairy and some don't -- but they're all made with healthy calcium-rich ingredients:

Dietary Supplemnts

Calcium is also available as a supplement, but be careful not to go over the tolerable upper levels for major minerals. Speak to your health care provider before taking calcium or other dietary supplements.

Sources:

Kitchin B, Morgan SL. "Not just calcium and vitamin D: other nutritional considerations in osteoporosis." Curr Rheumatol Rep. 2007 Apr;9(1):85-92.

Office of Dietary Supplements. "Dietary Supplement Factsheet - Calcium." Accessed September 1, 2011. http://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/calcium.

Office of Dietary Supplements. "Dietary Supplement Factsheet - Vitamin D." Accessed September 1, 2011. http://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/vitamind.

United States Department of Agriculture. "Food Groups: Dairy." Accessed September 1, 2011. http://www.choosemyplate.gov/foodgroups/dairy.html.

United States Department of Agriculture, National Nutrient Database for Standard Reference. Accessed September 01, 2011. http://www.nal.usda.gov/fnic/foodcomp/search/ National Nutrient Database for Standard Referencez

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