Calcium is an essential element that plays a role in bone health, muscle movement, and nerve function.
It’s crucial to maintain adequate calcium levels so the body can function optimally.
Calcium is found in bones and throughout the circulatory system; however, the body is incapable of creating calcium, so it must be ingested through a calcium-rich diet.
Including a diet of herbs high in calcium is a great way to provide your body with this mineral. In this article, we’ll review a list of calcium herbs as well as the health benefits of calcium.
Table of Contents
Calcium is a naturally occurring element in water, soil, and rocks. Plants absorb calcium to support the structure of their cell walls and membranes. Certain plants contain more calcium than others, when we consume these fresh herbs that are high in calcium, we increase our dietary calcium intake.
Humans require large amounts of calcium to ensure bone strength and integrity. We also use calcium to maintain vital functions like muscle contraction, blood coagulation, and the firing of neurons. Along with these essential processes, calcium supports blood vessel contraction and dilation.
The small intestines absorb calcium into the bloodstream, where it is either used for bodily processes or stored in the bones. Around 99% of internal calcium is found in the bones, while the rest is located in the circulatory system.
Since vitamin D plays a crucial role in absorbing calcium, it’s important to also consume foods and herbs high in vitamin D.
Calcium deficiency (hypocalcemia) can lead to numerous health complications, including osteoporosis (fragile, weak bones), muscle spasms, limb tingling, mood and behavior issues, bone disorders, and congestive heart failure.
Although calcium is widely found in plants and whole foods, approximately 40% of the US population doesn’t receive adequate calcium. This is due to the highly-processed, mineral-depleted Western Diet.
Types of calcium found in food, water, and plants include calcium carbonate, calcium citrate, calcium phosphates, calcium gluconate, calcium fumarate, calcium malate, and calcium lactate.
Since the body only absorbs 28% – 36% of ingested calcium, it’s essential to consume whole foods and herbs high in calcium to receive this mineral’s various health benefits.
Herbs High in Calcium:
Below is a list of the best herbs for increasing calcium.
1. Nettle (Urtica dioica)
Nettle leaf, more frequently called “stinging nettle,” is an herb noted for its high mineral levels and protective nature. Along with its significant amounts of calcium, nettles contain iron, magnesium, B vitamins, and potassium.
The nettle plant has tiny, imperceivable hairs that can cause skin irritation; however, the sting can be removed when the nettle leaves are heated. After this process, the plant can be added to numerous culinary dishes as a highly nutritional inclusion.
Some of the best nettle preparations include pesto, soups, sauteed nettles, nettle tea, and smoothies. Nettle has a fresh, green, and nourishing flavor, similar to collard greens and spinach.
Apart from its nutritional content, nettles can be used to support skin conditions (psoriasis and eczema), blood issues, joint and muscle pain, and for anemia. For therapeutic applications, nettles can be applied topically as a salve or consumed in tea or tincture form.
1 cup of cooked nettle is estimated to contain 428 mg of calcium. You would need to ingest approximately 2.5 cups of nettle to receive your recommended daily calcium intake. Although possible, it’s best to consume a well-rounded diet of calcium rich foods and herbs to obtain sufficient calcium levels.
Summary:Stinging nettle leaves contain high levels of calcium and are thought to benefit issues of the skin, blood, joints, and muscles.
2. Oat Straw (Avena sativa)
Oat straw comes from the oat plant and consists of the entire plant minus the milky oat tops and ripe oat seeds. It has been used for its medicinal properties and high nutritional content for millennia.
Herbalists and nutritionists highly revere the entire oat plant due to its mineral-rich constitution and ability to support the body. The ripe oat seeds are a common culinary ingredient in cereal and various baking dishes.
Oat straw is considered a “nervine,” which soothes the nervous system, encouraging relaxation and stabilizing mood. Research shows that oat straw may support the heart and brain, regulate the immune system, soothe skin issues, reduce inflammation, and have antioxidant properties.
It is estimated that 1 cup of oat straw infusion contains 300mg of calcium.
Oat straw can be used topically for skin conditions or consumed as a tea or tincture.
Summary:Calcium-rich oat straw is an herb with many minerals that has been shown to promote the nervous system, relaxation, cognition, and inflammation.
3. Plantain (Plantago major)
Commonly seen in sidewalk cracks and throughout grassy areas, plantain is a highly-pervasive herb famous for its skin-supporting properties. It has been used therapeutically for thousands of years.
Plantain is a perennial plant that grows globally. The leaves have characteristic “veins” running vertically from stem to tip.
The leaves are usually used for topical applications; however, they can be consumed internally to help with eye and lung conditions and to strengthen the liver. Plantain may also reduce inflammation internally and externally due to its soothing properties.
It’s estimated that 100g of plantain leaves contains 108mg of calcium.
Plantain can be consumed as a green juice or applied topically as a salve or poultice.
Summary:Plantain is an herb high in calcium that is used for its benefits for skin health and inflammatory conditions.
4. Dandelion (Taraxacum officinale)
Dandelion plants are pervasive throughout the Northern Hemisphere’s roadsides, fields, yards, and parks. The roots are commonly roasted and used as a coffee substitute, and the leaves are frequently consumed in salads.
While the bitter taste of dandelion leaves can be intense, cooking them in oil and butter will reduce the unpleasant flavor. They can also be consumed in various dishes, like salads, sandwiches, pesto, potato salad, and on top of pizza.
It’s estimated that 1 cup of freshly chopped dandelion greens contains 102mg of calcium.
Dandelion leaves are commonly used in cuisine and can be ingested as tea or tincture.
Summary:Calcium-rich dandelion leaves have been used to promote digestion, immunity, antioxidant, and cardiac health.
5. Basil (Ocimum basilicum)
Known for being a popular aromatic herb in Italian cuisine, basil, or sweet basil, is a diverse plant. It belongs to the Lamiaceae or mint family and can grow outside or inside in a small pot near a window.
Basil is famously used in pasta dishes and salads, on pizza, and as a flavoring for mussels. Research shows that basil may reduce inflammation, support digestion, increase brain functioning, and boost mood.
While basil won’t meet your daily intake requirements for calcium, it is considered a significant source with 9mg per 2 Tbsps of chopped herb.
Basil leaves can be consumed raw from the plant or dried and used as a culinary spice in the kitchen. One of the most popular dishes is basil pesto.
Summary:Beyond being a popular kitchen herb, basil provides benefits for increasing calcium content, inflammation, digestion, and cognition.
6. Chamomile (Matricaria recutita)
Gentle chamomile is a popular herb in the Asteraceae or daisy family. It is native to Southern and Eastern Europe and Western Asia and has been used in medicinal systems since antiquity.
Chamomile is one of the oldest documented therapeutic herbs with numerous properties. Traditional and modern accounts laud chamomile for its ability to reduce tension, soothe nerves, ease inflammation, and encourage digestion.
It’s estimated that 1 cup of chamomile tea contains 4.74mg of calcium.
Chamomile can be used topically as a salve or administered as a tea, extract, or supplement in capsule form.
Summary:Chamomile is a versatile calcium-rich herb with many benefits for tension, inflammation, and digestion.
Health Benefits of Calcium:
Calcium is a naturally occurring element and the fifth most abundant metal on Earth. It plays a role in the vital processes of plants, animals, and humans and is also necessary for forming shells and fossils.
Since it is only found in compound form (connected with other elements), humans consume numerous types of calcium through plants, food, and water, like calcium citrate (citrus fruits), calcium lactate (cheese), calcium phosphate (cow’s milk), and calcium gluconate. Natural calcium supplements also provide adequate calcium levels for the body.
Calcium is commonly used to maintain bone strength and structure, support nerve communication and electrical transmission, and promote muscle contractions, which helps the heart muscle beat normally.
This essential mineral also works with enzymes to form bones and determine the appropriate size of a blood clot. When there are inadequate calcium levels, the body pulls calcium from the bones, which may cause them to weaken and break easily.
Calcium’s direct relationship with vitamin D determines how much calcium is absorbed into the bloodstream. The body only absorbs around 10% to 15% of ingested calcium without adequate levels of vitamin D.
How Much Calcium Per Day?
Your daily calcium requirements differ based on your gender and age.
Below is a helpful chart.
|Age Group||RDA (mg/day)|
|Elderly ( 71+ years)||1,200 mg|
|Men (19 – 70 years)||1,000 mg|
|Women (51 – 70 years)||1,200 mg|
|Women (19 – 50 years)||1,000 mg|
|Boys + Girls (9 – 18 years)||1,300 mg|
|Children (4 – 8 years)||1,000 mg|
|Children (1 – 3 years)||700 mg|
|Infants (7 – 12 months)||260 mg|
|Infants (0 – 6 months)||200 mg|
|Pregnant + Breastfeeding Women||1,000 – 1,300 mg (age dependent)|
It is important to note that these are the recommended daily allowances, which are the minimum amount of a nutrient a person needs to avoid a deficiency. Some individuals may need more or less depending on their needs and health conditions.
Supplementing with herbs high in calcium will support numerous body functions and may prevent health issues like bone and heart conditions, muscle spasms, and mood disorders.
Since the body requires high levels of calcium daily to carry out vital processes, it’s essential to ensure you’re consuming calcium-rich plants and foods. While supplements are sufficient, it’s best to receive both calcium and vitamin D from natural sources.
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