In order to keep your teeth healthy, it's essential to include plenty of calcium in your diet. Milk and dairy products are perhaps the best-known foods that are high in calcium, but if you cannot eat these foods, don't despair. There are plenty of non-dairy foods that will help you meet your calcium needs, which vary depending on your age and sex.
The National Institutes of Health recommends that adults ages 19 - 50 consume 1,000 mg of calcium per day. Men ages 51-70 also need 1,000 mg, women ages 51 - 70 need 1,200 mg, and all adults ages 71 and older need 1,200 mg of calcium per day to maintain healthy teeth and bones. With those numbers in mind, take a look at these great sources of calcium.
Breakfast Foods High in Calcium
Breakfast cereals: Many breakfast cereals are fortified with calcium, so check the back of your favorite breakfast cereal box to see just how much calcium it contains. Some have as much as 3,333 milligrams of calcium per 100 grams of cereal, which equates to about 833 grams per cup of cereal.
Non-dairy milks: Don't make the mistake of thinking that you can't enjoy cereal because you don't drink milk. There are some delicious non-dairy milks, including almond and soy milk, which are usually fortified with calcium and contain up to 30% of your daily requirements in a single serving. Enjoy them over your cereal, or blend them into a breakfast smoothie.
Some fruits: Fruit is commonly enjoyed for breakfast because it is high in fiber and vitamins, but some fruits are great sources of calcium, too. Oranges and tangerines contain 43 milligrams of calcium each. Kiwis contain about 34 mg each, and dried figs contain a remarkable 241 mg of calcium per cup. Prunes, which are a great addition to cereal, contain about 75 mg of calcium per cup.
Lunch and Dinner Foods High in Calcium
Leafy greens: Make yourself a salad daily, and you'll be well on your way towards meeting your calcium needs. Many leafy greens are high in calcium, but some of the best choices are arugula, which contains 32 mg of calcium per cup, and spinach, which contains 30 mg per cup. Collard greens and mustard greens are also very high in calcium, but you'll want to cook them before eating because they have a very tough texture and strong flavor.
Beans and tofu: Try eating beans or tofu instead of meat once or twice per week, and your calcium intake will likely increase. Pinto beans contain about 75 mg of calcium per cooked cup, and white beans contain about 70 mg. Tofu is very high in calcium -- just 4 ounces of firm tofu contains between 250 and 750 mg, depending on the brand.
Nuts and seeds: Toss a few nuts or seeds onto your stir fry or salad, or eat a handful as a snack. Almonds contain about 80 mg of calcium per ounce, which means a 3-ounce serving will put you well on your way towards meeting your calcium needs. Sesame seeds contain an amazing 280 mg of calcium per ounce, so sprinkle them on your favorite foods.
Fish: Most meats are not great sources of calcium, but some fish are. Mackerel contains 250 mg per 3-ounce serving, and a serving of salmon contains between 170 and 210 milligrams. You may want to reconsider sardines as a pizza topping, as they contain 307 mg of calcium per 3-ounce serving.
If your dentist has told you to increase the calcium in your diet to harden your teeth, you don't necessarily have to start drinking more milk. Rely on the foods above to meet your calcium needs and keep your chompers in tip-top shape.