Got calcium? Non-dairy food sources of calcium

Wondering how you can ensure you meet your daily recommended intake of calcium without the use dairy foods?

You probably won’t doubt that calcium is essential for our health, especially bone health. Our body fluid needs to maintain a constant level of calcium to support many of our basic physiological functions. Calcium helps with muscle contraction, blood vessel contraction and expansion (related to your blood pressure level), and signaling process in nervous system. However, only one percent of total calcium in our body circulates in body fluids. Michigan State Univesrity Extension says that the majority of the calcium in our body deposits in bones and teeth, where it provides structural support and acts as a “savings account” from which calcium is frequently and repeatedly withdrawn and deposited.

From the “Got milk?” campaign to Choosemyplate “three servings of dairy a day,” it is likely that you have learned that dairy foods are rich in calcium. One cup (eight ounces) of milk has approximately 290mg of calcium, which is almost 30 percent of the daily intake recommendation (1,000mg for adults ages 19 through 50).

But think about this. Do you know someone that is lactose intolerance, someone from other cultures who does not use dairy products or someone who practices vegetarianism or veganism? Have you ever wondered how do they ensure their intake of calcium? What foods other than dairy can supply or supplement calcium in their diet?

There is no doubt that low-fat dairy foods are very nutritious. But dairy is not the only good source of calcium. You can find calcium in variety of vegetables, seeds/nuts, fortified food and foods often ate in other cultures.

Even if you consume dairy foods on regular basis, other calcium rich products may add varieties into your diet and help you cut down on saturated fat, cholesterol and even added sugar. Here we have some examples on non-dairy foods that are adequate calcium sources.

Foods

Calcium Content

Vegetables:

  • Kale, cooked, ½ cup
  • Broccoli, cooked, ½ cup
  • Bok choy, cooked, ½ cup
  • Mustard greens, cooked, ½ cup

 

47mg

35mg

79mg

56mg

Calcium Fortified Foods:

  • Orange juice, calcium-fortified, 6 fl oz
  • Read-to-eat cereal, calcium-fortified,1 cup
  • Soymilk, enriched, 1 cup

 

200-260mg

100-1,000mg

289mg

Seafood:

  • Sardines with bones, canned in oil, 3 oz
  • Salmon, solids with bone, canned, 3 oz

 

324mg

181mg

Seeds/Nuts:

  • Almonds, 1oz
  • Sesame seeds, 1 cup
  • Flax seed, ½ cup

 

75mg

168mg

214mg

Other Options

  • Tofu (soybean curd), 1 cup
  • Kelp, dried, 1 cup
  • Hummus, 1 cup
  • Blackstrap Molasses, 2tbsp
  • Dry figs, 1 cup
  • Navy beans, 1 cup

 

275mg

56mg

121mg

82mg

241mg

149mg

Finally, to better utilize your calcium, you may also want to consider:

  1. Maintain an optimal vitamin D level to assist the absorption of calcium
  2. Decrease the sodium intake to prevent loss of calcium in the urine
  3. Avoid calcium inhibitors (excessive coffee, alcohol, simple sugar)
  4. Avoid excessive oxalic acid rich foods, such as spinach, chocolate
  5. Engage in weight bearing exercise to reap the full benefits of calcium on the bones and muscles

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