Tuesday, July 16, 2024

Calcium Sources: Best Nigerian Foods for Strong Bones

Last Updated on November 16, 2023


In the pursuit of optimal health, strong bones form the foundation of a resilient and vibrant body.

Essential for maintaining skeletal integrity and preventing diseases like osteoporosis, calcium is a key player in this health equation.

Nigeria, rich in diverse culinary traditions, offers a treasure trove of calcium-rich foods that contribute to bone strength.

Let’s delve into the vibrant world of Nigerian cuisine, where delicious and nutrient-packed options abound.

From traditional stews to street snacks, the array of calcium sources is impressive, ensuring that building and maintaining strong bones can be a flavorful journey.

The cornerstone of any discussion about bone health is, of course, dairy.

In Nigeria, fermented milk products like “Nunu” and locally produced cheese provide an excellent dose of calcium.

These dairy delights are not only delicious but also easily incorporated into daily meals, making them accessible to all.

Leafy green vegetables take center stage in the Nigerian culinary scene, boasting not only vibrant flavors but also a robust calcium content.

Vegetables like ugu (fluted pumpkin) and ewedu (jute leaves) are not just accompaniments; they’re nutritional powerhouses that fortify bones and elevate the dining experience.

Nigeria’s love affair with seafood extends beyond taste, as it introduces another dimension to bone health.

Fish such as sardines and mackerel are not only delightful on the palate but also rich in calcium, making them indispensable in any well-rounded bone-friendly diet.

For those seeking plant-based alternatives, Nigeria’s diverse legumes come to the rescue.

From cowpeas to lentils, these legumes offer a substantial calcium boost, promoting bone health without compromising on taste or cultural preferences.

This journey is an invitation to savor the richness of Nigeria’s culinary tapestry while nurturing the very foundation of our physical well-being.

Join us on this flavorful quest for strong, resilient bones through the vibrant palette of Nigerian cuisine.

The importance of Calcium for strong bones

Role of Calcium in bone health

Calcium plays a vital role in ensuring strong and healthy bones.

It is a mineral that helps in the development and maintenance of bone structure.

Our bones are constantly undergoing a process called remodeling, where old bone is broken down and new bone is formed.

Calcium is necessary for this continuous growth and repair of bone tissue.

Recommended daily intake of Calcium

The recommended daily intake of Calcium varies depending on age and gender.

For adults between the ages of 19-50, the recommended intake is 1000 milligrams per day.

However, for women over 50 and men over 70, the recommended intake increases to 1200 milligrams per day.

It is important to meet these recommended levels to ensure optimal bone health and reduce the risk of developing osteoporosis.

Nigeria, with its rich culinary traditions, offers various calcium-rich foods that can contribute to strong bones.

Including these foods in your diet can be an excellent way to increase your calcium intake naturally.

Some of the best Nigerian foods for strong bones include:

  1. Ewedu soup: This traditional Nigerian soup made from jute leaves is not only delicious but also a great source of calcium.

  2. Moringa leaves: Moringa is known for its high nutritional content, and its leaves contain a significant amount of calcium.

  3. Okra: This versatile vegetable is not only low in calories but also provides a good amount of calcium.

  4. Nigerian spinach: Spinach is a leafy green vegetable that is packed with calcium and other essential nutrients.

Incorporating these calcium-rich foods into your daily diet can help ensure you meet your recommended daily intake and maintain strong and healthy bones.

Read: Iron-Rich Foods in Nigeria: Boosting Your Health

Nigerian foods rich in Calcium

Egusi (melon) seeds

1. Nutritional value of Egusi seeds

Egusi seeds are packed with essential nutrients including calcium, which is vital for strong bones.

2. How to incorporate Egusi seeds in Nigerian dishes

Egusi seeds can be added to soups, stews, and sauces to enhance flavor and boost calcium intake.


1. Nutritional value of Sardines

Sardines are not only a great source of protein and omega-3 fatty acids but also a good source of calcium.

2. Different ways to include Sardines in your diet

Sardines can be enjoyed grilled, baked, or added to salads, sandwiches, and pasta dishes.

Nkwobi (spicy cow foot)

1. Calcium content in Nkwobi

Nkwobi, a delicious Nigerian delicacy, contains a significant amount of calcium for bone health.

2. Traditional recipe for Nkwobi

Nkwobi is prepared by simmering cow foot with spices and herbs to create a flavorful and nutritious dish.

Ugu (pumpkin) leaves

1. Nutritional value of Ugu leaves

Ugu leaves are not only rich in calcium but also provide essential vitamins and minerals for overall health.

2. Popular Nigerian dishes with Ugu leaves

Ugu leaves can be used in soups, porridges, and stir-fried dishes, adding a nutritious boost to meals.

Okra (okro)

1. Calcium content in Okra

Okra may not be commonly known for its calcium content, but it still contributes to overall calcium intake.

2. Delicious Okra recipes to try

Okra can be used in dishes like Okra soup, Okra stir-fry, and Okra stew, bringing both taste and nutrients to the table.

By incorporating these calcium-rich Nigerian foods into your diet, you can ensure strong bones and overall bone health.

Read: Essential Minerals Found in Nigerian Local Dishes

Calcium Sources: Best Nigerian Foods for Strong Bones

Other sources of Calcium for strong bones

Dairy products

  1. Milk and its benefits: Milk is an excellent source of calcium as it provides about 300 mg per cup. Consuming milk regularly can help strengthen bones and prevent osteoporosis.

  2. Different dairy products to incorporate in your diet: Apart from milk, other dairy products such as yogurt and cheese are also rich sources of calcium. Including these in your diet can increase your calcium intake.

Non-dairy sources of Calcium

  1. Leafy greens and their calcium content: Vegetables like kale, spinach, and broccoli are great non-dairy sources of calcium. They are not only rich in calcium but also provide other essential nutrients.

  2. Nuts and seeds as calcium sources: Almonds, sesame seeds, and chia seeds are excellent options for obtaining calcium. They can be consumed as snacks or added to various recipes to enhance calcium intake.

It’s essential to maintain strong and healthy bones to support overall physical health.

While dairy products serve as a popular source of calcium, especially among Nigerians, there are various other options available.

It’s crucial to include a variety of calcium-rich foods in your diet to meet your body’s needs.

Milk and its benefits

Milk is widely loved for its taste and nutritional value.

Besides being a rich source of calcium, it is also packed with other essential nutrients like vitamin D, protein, and potassium.

These nutrients work together to maintain bone health.

Moreover, milk contains lactose, a natural sugar that aids calcium absorption in the body.

Different dairy products to incorporate in your diet

Aside from milk, several other dairy products can be included in your diet to boost calcium intake.

Yogurt, for example, is a versatile option that can be consumed as a snack or used in cooking.

It is not only high in calcium but also contains beneficial probiotics that support gut health.

Similarly, cheese is another delicious dairy product that provides a considerable amount of calcium.

Incorporating these dairy options into your daily meals can ensure a sufficient intake of calcium for strong bones.

Leafy greens and their calcium content

If you prefer non-dairy sources of calcium, leafy greens are an excellent choice.

Vegetables like kale, spinach, and broccoli are not only low in calories but also rich in calcium.

For instance, one cup of cooked kale can provide around 100 mg of calcium.

Additionally, these leafy greens are loaded with other nutrients like vitamin K, which is essential for bone health.

Nuts and seeds as calcium sources

Nuts and seeds are not only delicious but also offer significant amounts of calcium.

Almonds, for instance, contain about 75 mg of calcium per ounce.

They are also rich in healthy fats, fiber, and antioxidants.

Sesame seeds and chia seeds are other excellent options to consider.

Just a tablespoon of sesame seeds can provide around 88 mg of calcium, while the same amount of chia seeds offers about 73 mg.

Including these nutritious nuts and seeds in your meals or consuming them as snacks can contribute to your calcium intake.

By incorporating a combination of dairy and non-dairy sources of calcium into your diet, you can ensure strong and healthy bones.

It’s important to note that calcium absorption is influenced by other factors such as vitamin D intake and physical activity.

Therefore, it’s advisable to maintain a well-rounded diet and an active lifestyle to maximize the benefits of calcium for bone health.

Read: The Intersection of Minerals, Health, and Nigerian Foods

Tips for maximizing Calcium absorption

Vitamin D and its role in Calcium absorption

  1. Vitamin D plays a crucial role in the absorption and utilization of Calcium in the body.

  2. Exposure to sunlight is the best way to get Vitamin D, but certain foods can also provide this essential nutrient.

  3. Fatty fish such as salmon and mackerel, fortified dairy products, and eggs are rich sources of Vitamin D.

  4. Individuals with limited sun exposure or specific dietary restrictions may require Vitamin D supplements.

Pairing Calcium-rich foods with Vitamin D sources

  1. Pairing Calcium-rich foods with Vitamin D sources can enhance Calcium absorption and promote stronger bones.

  2. For example, combining a glass of milk with a few minutes of sun exposure can provide both Calcium and Vitamin D.

  3. Eating Calcium-rich foods like cheese or yogurt along with Vitamin D-rich foods like salmon creates a powerful bone-boosting combination.

  4. It is important to note that the body needs adequate levels of both Calcium and Vitamin D to optimize bone health.

  5. Maximizing Calcium absorption requires attention to both Vitamin D intake and proper food combinations.

Here are some additional tips to ensure you are getting the maximum benefits from your Calcium sources:

  1. Include a variety of Calcium-rich foods in your diet such as dairy products, leafy green vegetables, and legumes.

  2. Choose low-fat or non-fat dairy products to minimize saturated fat intake.

  3. Avoid excessive intake of caffeine and carbonated drinks, as they can hinder Calcium absorption.

  4. Consider incorporating Calcium-fortified foods like tofu, orange juice, and cereals into your meals.

  5. Spread your Calcium intake throughout the day to ensure optimal absorption.

  6. Combine Vitamin C-rich foods, like citrus fruits, with Calcium sources to further enhance absorption.

  7. Avoid smoking and limit alcohol consumption, as they can lower Calcium levels in the body.

  8. Engage in weight-bearing exercises, such as walking or weightlifting, to stimulate Calcium absorption and bone strength.

  9. Consult with a healthcare professional to determine if you need Calcium or Vitamin D supplements.

  10. Regularly check your Calcium levels through blood tests to ensure you are meeting your recommended daily intake.

By following these tips, you can ensure that the Calcium you consume is properly absorbed and utilized by your body, ultimately leading to stronger bones and a healthier future.

Read: Food Processing in Nigeria: Preserving Mineral Value


Calcium is essential for maintaining strong bones and overall bone health.

It is crucial to include Calcium-rich Nigerian foods in our diet to ensure an adequate intake of this important mineral.

By consuming foods like milk, yogurt, egg, sardines, and leafy green vegetables, we can easily meet our daily Calcium requirements.

It is also worth emphasizing the significance of a balanced diet in promoting bone health.

Apart from Calcium, other nutrients like Vitamin D, magnesium, and phosphorus also play a vital role in maintaining strong bones.

Therefore, it is important to consume a variety of nutrient-rich foods to support optimal bone health.

Incorporating Calcium-rich Nigerian foods into our daily meals not only helps in building and maintaining strong bones but also provides various other health benefits.

These foods are easily accessible and can be included in different recipes to make them more delicious and enjoyable.

So, let’s make a conscious effort to prioritize our bone health by incorporating these nutritious foods into our diet.

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