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Calcium-Rich Foods: What To Eat For Healthier Teeth

Your diet affects so many areas of your health — including your teeth!  — and some foods offer more oral benefits than others. Consuming calcium-rich foods is an easy way to make your food work harder for your teeth. Dairy products like milk and cheese might seem like the obvious answer, but the variety of delicious calcium options might surprise you. Protect your smile and fuel your body with foods high in calcium.

What's the Link Between Calcium and Teeth?

Calcium is the most abundant mineral in the human body, and 99 percent of your body's calcium supply supports your bones and teeth' structure and function. According to the American Dental Association (ADA), calcium strengthens your tooth's hard outer shell called the enamel and helps your teeth fight off erosion and cavities.

How Much Calcium Do You Need?

The National Institutes of Health recommends that adults between the ages of 19 and 50 consume 1,000 milligrams (mg) of calcium per day. Bone loss and tooth decay can increase as you age or have certain risk factors like a family history of osteoporosis. Other risk factors include taking medications that can weaken bones or being lactose intolerant.

Which Foods Are High in Calcium?

You can take supplements if you have a calcium deficiency. Still, it's easy to meet your daily requirements with healthy food that are high in calcium. Try adding these ten calcium-rich foods to your meal plan. All nutrition information is provided by the U.S. Department of Agriculture's FoodData Central.

1. Milk

If you've ever been asked, "Got milk?" then you know cow's milk is one of the best and cheapest sources of calcium. One cup provides 200 mg of calcium or 20% Daily Value (DV). Pour yourself a glass to drink with breakfast or enjoy it with a bowl of your favorite cereal.

2. Cheese

Like most dairy products, cheese is great for meeting your daily calcium recommendation. Parmesan cheese provides the highest ratio with 336 mg of calcium per ounce, closely followed by Romano, Gruyere, and goat cheese.

3. Yogurt

Yogurt rounds out this trio of dairy calcium sources with 296 mg of calcium or 30% DV in one cup of plain whole milk yogurt. Greek yogurt provides slightly less with 200 mg in a single cup. Serve your yogurt up with fruit and granola for sweet and crunchy flavor.

4. Canned Fish

If you're looking for some non-dairy calcium-rich foods, canned fish might seem an unlikely place to start. However, a single can of sardines gives a calcium punch with 351 mg per can. Canned salmon comes in a close second with 202 mg per can.

5. Seeds

If canned fish isn't your favorite, you can supplement your calcium consumption with various seeds. Poppy seeds provide the most calcium with 127 mg per tablespoon. Also, try adding a tablespoon of celery seeds (115 mg), chia seeds (90 mg), or sesame seeds (88 mg) to your next recipe.

6. Dark Leafy Greens

Dark leafy greens like collard greens, kale, and spinach share several health benefits, including calcium. A single cup of raw collard greens contains 83 mg, while kale and spinach provide 38 mg and 30 mg, respectively. Cook them down for a calcium-rich side dish or blend them into your next breakfast smoothie.

7. Almonds

If you need a quick, calcium-rich snack, grab a handful of almonds. This crunchy nut comes with 75 mg of calcium per ounce so that you can stash almonds in your bag for a quick pick-me-up.

8. Beans

Add beans to your favorite soups and chilis for another filling, calcium-rich option. White beans top the list with 139 mg in a single cup, followed closely by navy beans with 123 mg. Edamame — the baby form of soybeans — can also be an excellent calcium source with 98 mg in one cup of shelled beans.

9. Tofu

Made from soybeans, tofu is naturally rich in calcium. In fact, one 3.5 oz piece contains around 176 mg. However, you can purchase tofu prepared with calcium sulfate for a whopping 861 mg per half-cup.

10. Fortified Foods & Beverages

Finally, many processed foods come fortified with calcium. Cereals like General Mills Total can contain up to 1330 mg per cup. And other foods and beverages — such as orange juice, non-dairy kinds of milk, and grain products — can also be fortified with calcium. However, calcium is better absorbed and utilized if consumed in smaller amounts spread throughout the day.

When it comes to oral health, calcium is a no-brainer. It helps fortify teeth and keeps your gums healthy. However, you don't have to reach for a glass of milk to meet your daily requirements. Try the many other calcium-rich foods in your fridge or pantry instead. Eating tooth-healthy foods can help protect your smile in the most delicious way possible.

This article is intended to promote understanding of and knowledge about general oral health topics. It is not intended to be a substitute for professional advice, diagnosis or treatment. Always seek the advice of your dentist or other qualified healthcare provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition or treatment.

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