You know it’s in: Milk, yogurt, cheese
Surprising sources: While the vast majority—a whopping 99 percent—of calcium in your body takes up space in your bones and teeth and supports their structure and function, this mineral is also crucial for carrying messages between the brain and the rest of the body, and helping release hormones and enzymes for almost all bodily functions. And although you may not guess it because dairy hogs the spotlight, there are plenty of other sources of calcium.
Eating fish with edible bones—they’re soft so you won’t taste them—is one of the best ways to bump up your intake, says Kerry Neville, R.D., a Seattle-based nutritionist. Seven sardine fillets supplies 321 milligrams (mg), about a third of your daily value (DV), and 3 ounces of any type of canned salmon with bones provides 18 percent of your DV.
Firm tofu—but not soft—is also an excellent source, with 25 percent DV in a half cup. And while turnip greens and kale are good sources, the bioavailability of calcium from these greens is poor, Neville says. So if you’re vegan or vegetarian, make sure to consume foods fortified with calcium (such as soymilk or orange juice) or take calcium supplements.