Studies show that over half of Americans do not get the recommended calcium from their diets. The best sources of calcium are dairy products. Calcium should be provided in meals and snacks throughout the day. Try the Calcium Checklist to estimate how much calcium you get in a day. Follow the Food Guide Pyramid to obtain all the key nutrients you need.
|Children 1 to 3 years||500 mg|
|Children 4 to 8 years||800 mg|
|Youth 9 to 18 years||1300 mg|
|Adult 19 to 50 years||1000 mg|
|Adult 51 + years||1200 mg|
If you have trouble digesting dairy products, first try smaller amounts in meals and snacks spread throughout the day. Other solutions include: adding lactase enzyme drops to milk; choosing hard cheeses (like cheddar), and yogurt with active cultures, that are low in lactose; purchasing reduced-lactose dairy products; or taking lactase enzyme tablets before you eat or drink dairy products.
For individuals who either cannot tolerate any lactose or do not like dairy products, following are some calcium-rich alternatives. Calcium supplements may be another option.
|Calcium and Fat|
|Low-fat choices||Medium-fat choices||High-fat choices|
|300 mg calcium|
|1 cup skim milk or non fat yogurt||0g||1 cup whole milk, yogurt, fortified soy milk||8g||12 oz. Milk shake||12g|
|1 cup 2% milk, low-fat yogurt||5g||1 cup custard||9g||1 cup eggnog||19g|
|1 cup calcium fortified orange juice||0g||4 oz canned salmon, solids||7g||1 piece lasagna||15g|
|4 oz sardines, solids||13g|
|200 mg calcium|
|1 oz fat-free cheese||0g||1 oz. Cheddar/American cheese||9g||1 cup ice cream (10% fat)||14g|
|1 oz low fat cheese||6g||1 cup cream soup/chowder||9g||1 cup ice cream (16% fat)||24g|
|100 mg calcium|
|1 cup 1% cottage cheese||2g||1/2 cup macaroni and cheese||10g||1/8 quiche pie||48g|
|1 cup sherbet (2%)||4g||1 cup creamed (4%) cottage cheese||10g||1 cheeseburger, 4 oz||31g|
|1/2 cup ice milk (4%)||6g||1/8 15" pizza||9g||1 oz almonds||15g|
|1/2 cup cooked greens||0g||1/4 cup Alfredo sauce||10g||1 cup tempeh||13g|
|One 2 1/2" muffin||6g||One 7" waffle||11g|
|1 cup cooked dried beans/peas||1g||Fats such as cream cheese, sour cream, whipping cream, coffee cream, artificial creamer, and whipped topping contain little or no calcium. Substitute fat free yogurt or low-fat cottage cheese blended with 1 tbsp lemon juice or vinegar for sour cream or cream cheese.|
|1 taco shell||3g|
|1/2 cup tofu||6g|
|One 4" pancake||4g|
A word of caution: supplements are not regulated. As a result, many of the products are not standardized-meaning that they do not have the same amount or same product. Check for the Consumer Lab stamp of approval, a CL and a beaker, on the label. CL conducts independent product tests to ensure purity and consistency.
Food and Nutrition Board (FNB), Institute of Medicine (IOM). Dietary Reference Intakes for Calcium, Phosphorus, Magnesium, Vitamin D, and Fluoride (1999).
Virginia Cooperative Extension materials are available for public use, reprint, or citation without further permission, provided the use includes credit to the author and to Virginia Cooperative Extension, Virginia Tech, and Virginia State University.
Issued in furtherance of Cooperative Extension work, Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, Virginia State University, and the U.S. Department of Agriculture cooperating. Edwin J. Jones, Director, Virginia Cooperative Extension, Virginia Tech, Blacksburg; M. Ray McKinnie, Administrator, 1890 Extension Program, Virginia State University, Petersburg.
May 1, 2009