AARP’s "Prepare to Care: A Resource Guide for Families" can help make the job more manageable. Here’s how to receive a free copy.
by Candy Sagon, AARP Bulletin, September 3, 2010
We all know that calcium is important for bone health and can help prevent fractures as we age. While the jury is still out on whether popping a calcium pill is a good thing or not, all the experts agree that the best thing to do is to get more calcium through the food we eat.
A 2007 study by doctors at Washington University in St. Louis found that postmenopausal women who got most of their daily calcium from food had healthier bones than those who took supplements. Even though the supplement-takers in the study took in more calcium, tests showed that the food-only group still had higher bone density.
Obviously, dairy foods like milk, cheese and yogurt are good sources of calcium, but there are also many nondairy foods like almonds, dark green vegetables, tofu and canned salmon that contain this important nutrient.
Calcium-fortified foods including some breakfast cereals, orange juice and soy beverages are an additional option. Although these foods contain added calcium, it’s still less than the amount in calcium supplements and should be safe, says Sharonne Hayes, M.D., director of the Women’s Heart Clinic at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn. “Calcium from dietary sources has never been associated with increased cardiovascular risk,” she says.
The government recommends that people over 50 consume 1,200 mg of calcium daily. Here are some foods that are the best sources of calcium, according to the National Institutes of Health and the U.S. Department of Agriculture:
Dairy foods high in calcium:
• Plain low-fat yogurt, 8 ounces (415 mg)
• Cheddar cheese, 1.5 ounces (306 mg)
• Nonfat milk, 8 ounces (302 mg)
• Mozzarella, part skim, 1.5 ounces (275 mg)
• Fruit low-fat yogurt, 8 ounces (245-384 mg)
• Cottage cheese, 1 percent fat, 1 cup (138 mg)
• Chocolate instant pudding, low-fat, ½ cup (153 mg)
Nondairy foods high in calcium:
• Sardines, canned in oil, 3 ounces (325 mg)
• Tofu, firm, made with calcium sulfate, ½ cup (253 mg)
• Salmon, pink, canned, with bones, 3 ounces (181 mg)
• Collards, cooked, ½ cup (178 mg)
• Spinach, cooked, ½ cup (146 mg)
• Soybeans, green, cooked, ½ cup (130 mg)
• Turnip greens, cooked, ½ cup (124 mg)
Additional sources of calcium:
• Molasses, blackstrap, 1 tablespoon (172 mg)
• Trail mix, chocolate chips, salted nuts and seeds, 1 cup (159 mg)
• Trout, farmed, cooked, 3 ounces (73 mg)
• Almonds, 1 ounce, about 23 nuts (70 mg)
• Egg, one large, scrambled (43 mg)
• Blackberries, 1 cup (46 mg)
• Potato, one baked, with skin (30 mg)
• Peanuts, 1 ounce, roasted (25 mg)
Candy Sagon writes about health and nutrition for the AARP Bulletin.
Please leave your comment below.
You must be logged in to leave a comment.
Members save 25% on their first healthy meal delivery order of 99+.
Members save 15% on the box of their choice.
Members can take a free confidential hearing test by phone.
AARP members receive exclusive member benefits & affect social change.
You are leaving AARP.org and going to the website of our trusted provider. The provider’s terms, conditions and policies apply. Please return to AARP.org to learn more about other benefits.
Your email address is now confirmed.
Manage your email preferences and tell us which topics interest you so that we can prioritize the information you receive.
Explore all that AARP has to offer.
In the next 24 hours, you will receive an email to confirm your subscription to receive emails
related to AARP volunteering. Once you confirm that subscription, you will regularly
receive communications related to AARP volunteering. In the meantime, please feel free
to search for ways to make a difference in your community at