Calcium is the most abundant mineral in your body—and eating a wide variety of foods can help you get enough of it.
Ever since you were a little kid, you were told to drink lots of milk because it would help you build strong bones, thanks to its abundance of calcium—which is actually the most prevalent mineral in your entire body. Your nerves, muscles, and hormones depend on calcium to function properly, but nearly all of your body’s calcium is stored in your bones, according to the National Institutes of Health (NIH).
While running low on calcium isn’t too common for most adults, our intake tends to drop when we’re most at risk for osteoporosis, a condition in which the bones become weak, increasing the risk of life-threatening falls. In a study published in The Journal of Nutrition, researchers found that less than 10 percent of women aged 51 or older met the recommended calcium intake from their diet alone—yet the National Osteoporosis Foundation recommends more than 1,200 milligrams (mg) of calcium daily for that age group.
For most adults, 1,000 mg of calcium per day should suffice, says the NIH. That can feel like a big number, especially if you avoid dairy products due to GI issues like lactose intolerance. The good news is that there’s an easy fix for that: eat a greater variety of foods!
It’s true that cow’s milk is one of the most concentrated sources of the mineral at about 300 mg per cup (or 8 ounces)*. Plus, it contains vitamin D, which actually helps your body absorb calcium. However, there are so many other beneficial sources of calcium, even if you tend to avoid animal products.
You’ll find dairy products on this list, but some other options may surprise you. For instance, certain leafy greens pack lots of calcium, while other similar leaves have zilch. Ready to get your fix? Here, 14 solid ways to get your daily dose of calcium that don’t include glugging a glass of milk.