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High Calcium Foods Chart (Printable)

Calcium is essential for athletes! Use our printable high-calcium foods chart to make sure you are getting enough!

This mineral builds strong bones, initiates muscle contraction, and more. If you don’t eat enough of it your body will take the calcium from your bones. 

Keep reading to learn the benefits of calcium and to see if you are eating enough! Then, dive into our printable high-calcium foods chart featuring dairy, plant-based, fortified, and non-dairy calcium options.

We’ll review an athlete’s specific calcium needs, explore the impact of the loss of menstruation on bone health and calcium absorption, and share why natural calcium-rich foods often outweigh supplements. 

Lastly, we will give easy, actionable tips to increase the calcium in your diet today to prevent injury and promote longevity in sport!

Role of Calcium 

Calcium is an important mineral responsible for: 

  • Building and maintaining healthy bones and teeth
  • Facilitating muscle contractions and nerve transmission
  • Blood clotting and wound healing
  • Regulating cellular processes and signaling
  • Aiding hormone and enzyme release
  • Maintaining normal blood pressure
  • Contributing to overall organ function and health

Calcium for mental health 

Recent research supports that calcium may even be linked to improved mental health. A study of >1200 college students found that higher intakes of calcium and dairy were associated with lower stress and higher positive mood.

We are losing calcium every day through sweat, urine, feces, hair, and nails. Check out our printable high-calcium foods chart to make sure you’re eating enough calcium!

Underfueling and osteoporosis 

When we don’t eat enough calcium, our body takes it from our bones to continue with its normal functions, weakening our bones in the process. 

This leads to osteoporosis which is characterized by a loss of bone density. This causes light, weak, fragile bones susceptible to breaks and fractures. 

The difficulty with osteoporosis is that it’s a “silent disease” because it is typically present without symptoms. 

It is even more difficult for female athletes with amenorrhea (a loss of menstruation) to build strong bones. When estrogen levels are low, calcium is not as easily absorbed from the bloodstream to build and strengthen bones (1).

Loss of menstruation is associated with undernutrition and can cause a loss of bone density at a rate of 2.5% per year (2)! 

A loss of period puts female athletes at a higher risk for stress fractures and osteoporosis; it is never okay to lose your period NO MATTER HOW FIT YOU ARE! 

Tests to check bone health 

The gold standard for checking bone health and bone density is a dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry (DXA) scan, often referred to as a DEXA scan. 

This test will have individuals lay still on a table for 10-20 minutes to measure bone density. 

We recommend elite athletes have DEXA scans annually to monitor bone mass trends. Contact your healthcare providers to see if a DEXA scan may be necessary for you.

This is a more accurate way to check on bone health, blood tests do not pick up on bone loss. 

Symptoms of calcium deficiency 

Here are symptoms of calcium deficiency to keep an eye out for:

  1. Muscle cramps
  2. Tingling and numbness
  3. Weak and brittle nails
  4. Tooth decay and gum problems
  5. Fatigue and weakness
  6. Osteoporosis or brittle bones
  7. Poor blood clotting

If you experience any of these symptoms. Consult with a healthcare professional for an accurate diagnosis and appropriate treatment.

We recommend athletes who experience muscle cramps consume at least two servings of calcium-rich foods twice daily to rule out a calcium deficiency as the culprit. 

Calcium requirements 

Check out the table for the dietary reference intakes for calcium from the Institute of Medicine to see what your daily calcium intake should be (3). 

Age Calcium Target 
1-3 years700 mg 
4-8 years1000 mg
9-18 years 1300 mg
Women and men 19-50 years 1000 mg
Men >701200 mg
Women >50 years (postmenopause)1200 mg 
Amenorrheic athletes1200 mg
Pregnant or breastfeeding 1000-1300 mg

Please note that as you age, you need more calcium.

Keep reading to learn what you should eat to boost the calcium in your diet. 

Calcium-rich foods: understanding the food label

We will review both dairy and plant-based sources of calcium, including foods with fortified calcium using standard portions and serving sizes. 

Click here to sign up for our complete printable high-calcium foods chart before checking out the details below!

Dairy foods rich in calcium 

Dairy Food Serving Calcium Content (mg)
Evaporated milk 8 oz 660
Plain yogurt 8 oz  (1 cup) 415
Eggnog 8 oz 330
Nonfat milk 8 oz 305
Kefir (plain)8 oz 300
Reduced fat milk 8 oz 285
Buttermilk 8 oz 285
Whole milk 8 oz 275
Dry milk ¼ cup 210
Pudding (made with milk)½ cup 155
Greek yogurt (plain)8 oz (1 cup)115
Frozen yogurt ½ cup 105
Ice cream ½ cup 85
Chocolate 1.5 oz bar 85
Cottage cheese (low-fat)½ cup 80
(Data from The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, calcium content can vary between brands)

Although the dairy industry is often demonized, cow’s milk remains a great source of calcium, fat, and protein. 

Dairy milk is a much better source of calcium than almond milk and oat milk. If you are lactose intolerant try lactose-free milk which has ~300 mg of calcium per 8 oz or soymilk fortified with calcium. 

Printable high calcium foods chart featuring calcium rich dairy foods such as cows milk, kefir, dry milk, egg nog, plain yogurt, and evaporated milk.

Cheese highest in calcium 

Here are cheeses ranked high to low in calcium content. Note that the portion varies. 

Cheese Type ServingCalcium content (mg)
Ricotta cheese (part-skim)½ cup 335
Provolone, Jack, & Swiss 1 oz220
Cheddar, Mozzarella, Muenster 1 oz 205
American cheese 1 oz 160
Feta & Blue cheese 1 oz 145
Parmesan cheese 2 tbsp 110
(Data from The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, calcium content can vary between brands)

Printable high calcium foods chart featuring the cheese highest in calcium such as ricotta, pepper jack, cheddar, provolone, swiss, and mozzarella.

Some individuals with lactose intolerance may tolerate lower lactose cheeses such as ricotta, Swiss, Parmesan, Cheddar, and Monterey Jack cheese. 

Non-dairy sources of calcium 

Source ServingCalcium content (mg)
Sardines, canned with bones3 oz 325
Tofu with calcium sulfate or calcium lactate ½ cup 215
Salmon, canned with bones 3 oz 180
Soybeans ½ cup 130
White beans, canned ½ cup 95
Sesame seeds 1 tablespoon 90
Clams, canned 3 oz 80
Blackstrap molasses2 tablespoons 80
Chia seeds 1 tablespoon 80
Almonds 1 oz 75
Printable high calcium foods chart featuring non dairy sources of calcium such as sardines, salmon with bones, tofu, edamame, sesame seeds, and white beans.

Calcium-rich fruits and vegetables 

Source Serving Calcium content (mg)
Collard greens ½ cup 135
Dried figs5 each 135
Turnip greens or bok choy ½ cup 100
Kale, frozen ½ cup 90
Kale, raw 1 cup 90
Okra ½ cup 90
Orange 1 whole 50
Broccoli cooked ½ cup 30
(Data from The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, calcium content may vary)

Many dark leafy greens are rich in calcium. However, they also contain high levels of oxalic acid. This compound binds to calcium and decreases the absorption. 

Spinach is high in calcium but also high in oxalate. It is estimated that <5% of the calcium content of spinach is absorbed  (4). 

Leafy greens are also rich in vitamin K and oranges are rich in vitamin C so although they may not contain more calcium than a glass of milk they provide other vitamins necessary for good health. 

Printable high calcium foods list featuring calcium rich vegetables such as collard greens, dried figs, bok choy, kale, turnip greens, and okra.

Calcium-fortified foods 

Calcium Fortified Food ServingCalcium content (mg)
Soy or Rice milk8 oz 300-370
Cereal bar (fortified)1 bar 300
Cereal ½ cup 200
Orange juice ½ cup 175
Waffle, 4”1 each 100 
Bagel 4”1 each 80
(Data from The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, calcium content can vary between brands)

Eat cereals with or without milk to add a little calcium and carbohydrates to your diet throughout the day. 

Printable high calcium foods list featuring high calcium fortified foods pictured is soy milk, cereal bars, cereal, waffles, orange juice, and a bagel.

Tips for boosting calcium in your diet 

  • Enjoy chocolate milk post-workout
  • Make smoothies using kefir, milk, or calcium-fortified orange juice as the base
  • Add milk or dry milk to your coffee instead of cream
  • Add cheese to sandwiches, wraps, or salads 
  • Snack on an orange, almonds, and a piece of cheese 
  • Add tofu fortified with calcium sulfate to stir-fry meals and soups 
  • Enjoy crackers with canned salmon or sardines 
  • Prepare pudding with milk for dessert
  • Incorporate more leafy green vegetables like swiss chard, bok choy, or kale weekly 
  • Consume a glass of milk or fortified soy milk with your meals 
  • Use our printable high-calcium foods chart to guide to help you to make sure you’re eating enough calcium!

Factors that can limit calcium absorption

Here are several factors that can impact calcium absorption:

  • Oxalic acid: found in leafy greens, binds to calcium and decreases the absorption
  • Phytic acid: in seeds, bran, and oat bran 
  • Too much fiber: found in vegetables, whole grains, and fruits can block absorption 
  • Caffeine: too much caffeine can reduce calcium absorption
  • Too much salt: can interfere with your retention of calcium and for some can cause high blood pressure 
  • Aging: as we age the body absorbs less of the calcium we consume 

Dairy foods more easily increase calcium levels in the body because they do not contain fiber, phytates, or oxalate. Your glass of milk or cup of yogurt contains protein in addition to calcium which further enhances your body’s ability to use calcium. Use our printable high-calcium foods chart to help increase your daily calcium intake.

Calcium supplements 

It is better to consume a calcium supplement instead of no calcium at all but dairy products are a much more complete source of calcium

Calcium supplements offer calcium and sometimes vitamin D. 

A good source of calcium like yogurt provides essential nutrients such as vitamins, minerals, protein, calcium, vitamin D, and phosphorus which increases the absorption rate. Plus it gives you more energy!

Calcium toxicity 

Too much calcium can be a bad thing. However, it is rare for a healthy person to consume too much calcium.

Typically excessive levels of calcium are seen in individuals with health conditions such as thyroid malfunction, kidney disease, or cancer. 

Limit daily calcium intake to <2000 mg per day. The tolerable upper intake level for adult men and women >51 is 2000 mg and for those aged 19-50 years old 2500 mg per day. 


Dairy products are one of the easiest ways to increase calcium intake through the diet. Check out our printable high-calcium foods chart for more good sources of calcium. 

To get the same amount of calcium from a plant source as one does from a glass of milk you would need to consume 3 cups of broccoli, 6 cups of sesame seeds, or 30 cups of unfortified soymilk. 

Avoid fractures and brittle bones by hitting the recommended daily allowance for calcium, 1000-1200 mg daily depending on your age. 

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