When most people in the US think of calcium, they immediately picture a glass of dairy milk. But should this be so?

Milk is actually only one of many sources of calcium, and by far not the best one — dark leafy green vegetables, legumes, nuts and seeds are much healthier sources — and there are some important reasons why milk may not be the best source for everyone.

First of all, milk may be a contributing factor in the development of many allergic and autoimmune disorders. Many researchers believe that it is a contributing factor to cancer and many other chronic diseases, and even obesity. It’s also bad for the environment and cruel to the animals and their babies that suffer to satisfy our craving for white beverage.

Calcium Requirements

Calcium is a vital nutrient for bone health, muscle contraction, nerve transmission, blood clotting and much more. Calcium requirements vary by age as indicated below:

0 to 6 months – 210 mg
7 to 12 months – 270 mg
1 to 3 years – 500 mg
4 to 8 years – 800 mg
9 to 13 years – 1300 mg
14 to 18 years – 1300 mg
19 to 50 years – 1000 mg
51+ years – 1200 mg

One cup of cow’s milk contains approximately 300 mg of calcium. In the USA, the recommended daily allowance (RDA) ranges from 800 milligrams to 1200 mg for pregnant or lactating women. Research with pregnant and lactating women in rural African communities has shown that they maintain good bones on a much lower intake, less than 400 milligrams per day. These women get plenty of sunshine, use highly bio-available sources and their diets do not contain excessive phosphorus or protein.

Calcium Rich Foods

Here is a list of some of the most calcium-rich foods out there. All of them compassionate and green choices – good for your health, good for the planet and good for the animals. Eat a variety of whole foods from that list every day, and you will more than satisfy your calcium requirements.

Just be sure to pair each of them with adequate vitamin D intake (the body needs this nutrient to absorb calcium. You must have vitamin D from supplements or sunshine to absorb dietary calcium. Daily, one half hour of sun on normally oily skin provides sufficient vitamin D precursor.

Also, keep in mind that calcium is more poorly absorbed by people eating a high protein diet, or high phosphorus foods (such as soda pop and milk).

1. Dark green leafy vegetables

Many dark green leafy vegetables are rich in calcium. Kale, broccoli, turnip greens, collard greens and mustard greens are all great sources of calcium. These low-oxalate vegetables are be better sources of available calcium than calcium in spinach, because of the high concentration of oxalate.

turnip greens
bok choy
mustard greens
dandelion greens

Foods with Calcium: Dark Leafy Greens

Calcium-Rich Greens:

1 cup cooked collard greens contains 266 milligrams of calcium; 1 cup raw contains 52 milligrams.

1 cup cooked turnip greens contains 197 milligrams of calcium; 1 cup raw contains 104 milligrams.

1 cup cooked of Bok Choy contains 158 milligrams of calcium; 1 cup raw contains 74 milligrams.

1 cup cooked mustard greens contains 104 milligrams of calcium; 1 cup raw contains 58 milligrams.

1 cup cooked kale contains 179 milligrams of calcium; 1 cup raw contains 90 milligrams.

1 cup cooked broccoli contains 62 milligrams of calcium; 1 cup raw contains 43 milligrams.

2. Nuts and Seeds

sesame seeds
sunflower seeds

For example, 1/4 cup almonds contains 92 milligrams of calcium.

3. Beans (cooked, ready to eat)

navy beans
pinto beans
garbanzo beans
lima, black beans
split peas

For example, 1 cup cooked navy beans contains 126 milligrams of calcium.

4. Whole Grains

corn meal, whole grain
brown rice
rye flour
whole wheat flour

5. Sea vegetables (seaweed)(dried)


6. Other

Soy milk
Carrots and carrot juice
Sesame butter

There is also an abundance of calcium-fortified foods (fruit juices, cereal) that will help you reach your calcium goals.

Calcium-Fortified Foods:

1 cup calcium-fortified Total cereal contains 1,000 milligrams of calcium.

1 cup calcium-fortified Special K Plus cereal contains 600 milligrams of calcium.

1 cup fortified plant-based milk (soy, almond, rice, hemp) contains about 300 milligrams of calcium.

1 cup calcium-fortified orange juice contains about 250 milligrams of calcium, the same as a cup of cow’s milk.

1/2 cup firm calcium-set tofu contains 861 milligrams of calcium. Calcium content in tofu varies according to the brand and type of agent used to set the tofu. When calcium sulfate is used, the calcium content is very high. Calcium sulfate is the most common coagulant used to make firm tofu.

Green Smoothies Are Rich in Calcium!

Because green smoothies contain so many leafy greens – they are also great sources of calcium. I assure you that a big glass of parsley smoothie is a much choice for you than a big glass of milk.

Or, if you must, have a glass of non dairy milk, such as soy milk.

Questions? Comments? Suggestions?

If you have a favorite recipe, why not submit it here in the comment section of this smoothie recipes blog for others to enjoy too!

I also welcome any comments, questions and suggestions. Thanks!