Harvard Women's Health Watch

Best nondairy sources of calcium

How much calcium you need, and where to find it outside the dairy aisle.

We're accustomed to thinking of calcium in terms of dairy foods such as milk, yogurt, and cheese. While these are excellent sources of this bone-building mineral, they're not the only sources. Other foods can supplement your calcium intake, or supplant it if you're vegan, lactose-intolerant, or just not fond of milk and yogurt.

"You can get adequate calcium through diet, not including dairy products," says Dr. Walter Willett, who is chair of the nutrition department at the Harvard School of Public Health. Dark green leafy vegetables, fish, and tofu are all rich in calcium. However, you may have to increase your intake of some of these foods—particularly vegetables like broccoli and kale—because your body may not absorb the calcium in these foods as well as it does the calcium in dairy foods, Dr. Willett says.

To continue reading this article, you must login.
  • Research health conditions
  • Check your symptoms
  • Prepare for a doctor's visit or test
  • Find the best treatments and procedures for you
  • Explore options for better nutrition and exercise
Learn more about the many benefits and features of joining Harvard Health Online »