Your Best Sources of Calcium

Provided By Joel Fuhrman M.D.

Don’t Be Fooled by Deceptive Labeling. Dairy Products Are a Poor Choice.

By Jeff Novick, R.D.

Nutritionists do not compare foods or nutrients in terms of weight, volume, or portion size. Comparing foods that way can be very misleading. For example, let’s compare calcium content in various foods by volume.

One Cup Calcium
Skim Milk 300 mg
Kale 180 mg
Bok Choy 158 mg
Broccoli 95 mg

Compared by volume, milk seems to be the winner. However, your body absorbs calcium differently from different foods. For example, only about 32 percent of the calcium in milk is absorbed, while 54 percent of the calcium in bok choy is absorbed.

So let’s modify the chart and compare by rate of absorption:

One Cup Calcium Percent Absorbed
Skim Milk 300 mg 32% 96 mg
Kale 180 mg 59% 106mg
Bok choy 158 mg 54% 85 mg
Broccoli 95 mg 53% 50 mg


Compared by absorption, kale wins and milk doesn’t seem so special.

Now we make our final adjustment. Let’s compare not by volume and rate of absorption, but by equal number of calories and rate of absorption:


100 Calories Calcium Percent Absorbed
Skim Milk 334 mg 32% 107 mg
Kale 449 mg 59% 265 mg
Bok Choy 787 mg 54% 425 mg
Broccoli 189 mg 53% 100 mg


As you can see, calorie-for-calorie, leafy green vegetables are far better sources of calcium than skim milk, and the same can be shown for other dairy products.


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