Alternative calcium options instead of milk

Calcium is an essential nutrient to the body, however some people’s bodies may reject milk. There are alternative options to receive calcium, other than milk.

The first thing that comes to mind for most people when calcium is mentioned is milk. There are alternate sources of calcium. People who are lactose intolerant, have milk allergies or don’t enjoy the taste of milk have alternative options to receive these essential nutrients. The National Institutes of Health (NIH) is a great site for more information on calcium. According to, nutrition A-Z Calcium is one of the most important elements in the human diet because it is a structural component of bones, teeth, soft tissues and is essential in many of the body’s metabolic processes. It accounts for one to two percent of adult body weight, 99 percent of which is stored in bones and teeth. On the cellular level, calcium is used to regulate the permeability and electrical properties of biological membranes (such as cell walls), which in turn control muscle and nerve functions, glandular secretions and blood vessel dilation and contraction. Calcium is also essential for proper blood clotting. Read more about calcium information for a healthy balance.

Milk isn’t the only way for youth or adults to consume the potential 1,300 milligrams of calcium needed every day. This is especially important for people who have lactose intolerance or who don’t eat dairy products. Other good sources of calcium include:

  • Dark green, leafy vegetables (such as spinach, broccoli and bok choy)
  • Some types of fish
  • Several servings of vegetables (to receive the amount of calcium in a cup of milk)

Foods that are fortified with calcium (calcium is added) are also a good option. Michigan State University Extension provides some suggestions:

  • Tofu (with added calcium sulfate)
  • Calcium-fortified orange juice
  • Soy beverages with added calcium
  • Calcium-fortified cereals or breads

Calcium supplements are an additional, alternative way to get calcium for children and adults who do not drink or cannot have milk or milk products. Before making any change in your diet please check with your doctor to get the information you need to make an informed dietary change.

Food labels on packaged, bottled and canned foods show how much calcium is in one serving of food. Look at the % Daily Value (or % DV) next to the calcium number on the food label. To learn more about how to read food labels read How to Understand and Use the Nutrition Facts Label.

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