Calcium in food: where is it found? Here are the richest foods

Crucial for bone and dental structures and for muscle contraction, calcium is one of the most abundant mineral elements in the human body. Let’s see what it is used for and which foods are richest in calcium.
Calcium is a metal present in large quantities in the earth’s crust and in the human body, where it is the most abundant metal. In fact, calcium, in association with phosphorus , forms the structures of the bones and teeth , so it is responsible for their mineralization. The bones therefore represent a deposit of this mineral .

Calcium is also fundamental in the blood coagulation process in which a series of reactions take place which, in order to be activated, require the calcium ion. Same thing happens with the muscle contraction process . In addition to these functions, calcium also participates in mechanisms of enzymatic activation and regulation, cell communication, transmission of nerve impulses, cell growth and proliferation. Hence, it is a fundamental mineral for various biological processes essential for our organism.

As for food , calcium is mainly present in dried herbs, seeds, cheeses and legumes. A low-calcium diet predisposes to osteoporosis , a condition in which the skeleton tends to lose bone mass. Let’s see how much calcium you need to take with your diet so that it can perform its functions in the best possible way.

Calcium: recommended daily amount

According to the Italian Society of Human Nutrition, the amount of calcium an adult should take daily is 800 mg, which rises to 1000 mg over the age of 60. For pregnant women the quota is 1000 mg per day. To reach the recommended daily amount of calcium, it is necessary to know and, consequently, to take the foods that are richest in this element, let’s see what they are.

Foods particularly rich in calcium

As we have anticipated, calcium in food is mainly contained in oil seeds, cheeses, legumes and aromatic herbs, but not only. Furthermore, it must be borne in mind that some substances hinder the absorption of calcium, such as oxalates , present in some vegetables such as spinach and whole grains, phytates, present in nuts, legumes and cereals, and tannins, present in tea and coffee. .

Dried aromatic herbs and spices

The foods that contain the most calcium of all are dried aromatic herbs, which are usually used to flavor foods but in small quantities. In first place there is basil, with 2240 mg of calcium per 100 grams, followed by marjoram, with 1990 mg of this mineral. Among the spices rich in calcium, we certainly find cinnamon , with its 1000 mg of calcium per 100 grams. As with aromatic herbs, it is used in small quantities in cooking, therefore it must be combined with other sources of calcium to ensure a good supply of this mineral.

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2. Poppy seeds

The poppy seeds are seeds that contain more calcium , bringing 1435 mg per 100 grams of this element. They are rich in fiber, which stimulate intestinal transit and help expel toxins, and in proteins. They allow a reduction of cholesterol levels in the blood.

3. Cheeses

Among the foods richest in calcium , there are certainly cheeses, in particular the Grana Padano, which contains 1184 mg per 100 grams. It is a cheese also rich in phosphorus and proteins, but very fat. Among the other cheeses rich in calcium we find pecorino and provolone.

4. Sesame seeds

The sesame seeds are among the seeds are rich in calcium , with 975 mg of calcium per 100 grams. A 20 g serving, therefore, provides about 195 mg of calcium. However, they are very caloric, like all seeds. They are also rich in zinc, a mineral with an antioxidant action. Their habitual consumption favors the lowering of cholesterolemia.

5. Tofu

The tofu is a derivative of soy which appears to be rich in calcium , with 350 mg per 100 grams. There are, however, different qualities of tofu, with different textures (more or less soft), different porosities and different nutritional characteristics. There is, for example, tofu in blocks with added calcium. The amount of calcium depends on the single product, there are more or less rich ones; the actual content is however always reported on the label. Tofu is also an excellent source of vegetable protein with a fair biological value and B vitamins.

6. Soy beans

80 grams of soy beans contain about 220 mg of calcium. Soybeans, due to their nutritional properties, are often recommended as a meat substitute in vegetarian diets. Like all legumes, they should be associated with cereals; they are, in fact, poor in cysteine ​​and thionine, two essential amino acids of which, on the contrary, cereals are rich.

7. Cannellini beans

80 grams of cannellini beans provide 192 mg of calcium. Cannellini beans have a delicate taste, are rich in nutrients and low in fat. They also contain a good amount of folic acid , which is very important in pregnancy, for a correct and healthy development of the fetus. They help regulate blood sugar and cholesterol levels; they are therefore also suitable for those suffering from diabetes or high cholesterol.

8. Borlotti beans

80 grams of pinto beans contain about 80 mg of calcium. Like all legumes, they are good both dried and canned. When bought canned, however, they should be drained and rinsed before consuming. In fact, ready-made legumes usually contain a lot of sodium, which inhibits the bioavailability of calcium, as well as causing other damage to the body.

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9. Almonds

17 grams of almonds , equal to two tablespoons, provide about 40 mg of calcium. Rich in vitamin E, almonds are an excellent snack and are easily found on the market both roasted and fresh. The almond milk is a great alternative to cow’s milk for those who want to follow a vegan diet. They are also high in protein and fiber, which help prevent constipation.

10. Amaranth

Amaranth is a pseudo-cereal , as it does not belong to the Graminaceae family like cereals, but has similar nutritional characteristics . It has a fairly important presence of calcium , with 159 mg per 100 grams. It is gluten-free , so it can be consumed by celiacs.

11. Waterfall

All natural waters contain calcium , even the one that flows from the taps in our house. There are also waters richer than others; to find them just read the labels of those we buy in bottles. Mineral waters with a high calcium content (greater than 300 mg / L) and low in sodium (less than 50 mg / L) are a good source of calcium.

12. Cow’s milk and yogurt

Milk is rich in calcium and this is a fact. In reality, however, the actual usefulness of these foods in the human diet is currently controversial and at the center of much discussion. Milk, in fact, if on the one hand it brings calcium, on the other it consumes it. Milk proteins, added to those deriving from the consumption of other animal foods, especially meat and fish, induce the body to subtract a portion of calcium from the skeleton in order to be able to dispose of them.

The usefulness of cow’s milk and derivatives for human health currently has supporters and detractors. The former affirm that milk and derivatives (especially yogurt) are essential to prevent the damage caused by a lack of calcium; others argue that the intake of these foods leads to a negative calcium balance and that is, on balance, the calcium that milk makes the body consume is higher than that which it provides. What about fats? Low-fat yoghurt and milk contain the same amount of calcium as whole milk , in fact a little more.

13. Figs

The figs are high in calories; however, they are also very rich in nutrients and are a good source of calcium . A 100 g portion of fresh figs provides 43 mg of calcium, while a portion of dried figs, equal to 30 grams, provides 56 mg of calcium. Dried figs, in fact, contain more calcium than fresh ones.

14. Seafood products

Some seafood products contain a good dose of calcium . They are particularly rich in silversides, anchovies, anchovies, squid, octopus and shrimps. For example, the amount of calcium present in 100 grams of anchovies in oil is 232 mg.

15. Raw green cabbage

The kale is a mine of vitamins and minerals and even make a decent portion of calcium . When eaten raw it keeps its nutritional characteristics intact, which are partially lost during cooking. Spinach, thistles and beets also contain calcium but cannot be considered a good source of this mineral; they have, in fact, too many oxalates, which greatly reduce their bioavailability.

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Table of foods rich in calcium

Let’s now discover a table with the calcium values present in food , expressed per 100 grams.

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Food: mg of Calcium / 100gr:
Dried basil 2240 mg
Dried marjoram 1990 mg
Timo 1890 mg
Salvia 1652 mg
Origan 1597 mg
Poppy seeds 1435 mg
Money 1184 mg
Pecorino 1064 mg
Cinnamon 1002 mg
Sesame seeds 975 mg
Emmental 791 mg
Provolone 756 mg
Caraway 689 mg
Chia seeds 631 mg
Fontina 550 mg
Gorgonzola 528 mg
Mozzarella 505 mg
Feta 493 mg
Goa beans 440 mg
Cool scam 405 mg
Tofu 350 mg
soy 277 mg
Flax seed 255 mg
Almonds 240 mg
Cannellini beans 240 mg
Anchovies in oil 232 mg
Ricotta 207 mg
Sheep’s milk 193 mg
Curcuma 183 mg
Garlic 181 mg
Lupins 176 mg
Brazilian walnut 160 mg
Amaranth 159 mg
Kale 135 mg
Whole milk 113 mg
Borlotti beans 102 mg
Spinach 99 mg
Figs 43 mg

Calcium: properties and benefits

After having seen which foods contain calcium in greater quantities, let’s see briefly below what are the functions performed in the body.

First of all, calcium is known to support the skeleton and prevent osteoporosis . This is because calcium, together with phosphorus, forms the structures that support bones, which in turn become important deposits of these minerals.

Furthermore, this mineral is responsible for muscle contraction as it actively intervenes in the process of muscle contraction, including the heart one, which depends on two proteins, called actin and myosin. When calcium binds to these proteins, this results in a transformation that involves the contraction of muscle fibers.

Calcium also prevents growth defects: in children and adolescents, a low intake or absorption of calcium, as well as vitamin D , can compromise their statural growth. Finally, it seems that calcium supplementation improves the lipid profile: in an article published in 2002 a study is shown which showed how calcium supplementation in doses of one gram per day in women after menopause improved lipid profile, in particular it increased the good cholesterol and decreased the bad one.

And you, are you sure you are getting enough calcium in your diet? Let us know by leaving us a comment!


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