Orthopedic Specialists

Non-Dairy Sources of Calcium

January 21, 2019

Calcium is very important to your health. In fact, you have more calcium in your body than any other mineral.  It makes up much of your bones and plays other important roles for good health.  A large percentage of the population does not meet their calcium needs through their diet.  Do you know you need more calcium, but you don’t like milk or have an issue with dairy?  There are several foods that you can add to your diet to get the recommended amount of calcium without having to take a supplement. 

1. Seeds – Some seeds are high in calcium including poppy, sesame, celery, and chia seeds.  For instance, 1 tablespoon of poppy seeds pack 126 mg of calcium or 13% of the recommended daily intake. Seeds also deliver protein and healthy fats.  
2. Sardines and canned salmon – These seafoods contain edible bone which boosts their calcium content.  A 3.75 ounce can of sardines has 35% of the RDI and 3 ounces of canned salmon with bones has 21%. These are healthy choices for your heart, brain, and skin also. 
3. Beans and Lentils – Beans and highly nutritious and are a good source of many nutrients. One cup of cooked white beans has 13% of RDI of calcium.  Other varieties of beans and lentils have less, ranging from 3-6% of the RDI per cup. 
4. Some Leafy Greens – Collard greens and kale have good amounts of calcium.  Spinach has  a lot of calcium, but also has high oxalates, which are naturally occurring compounds that bind to calcium, making some of it unavailable to your body.  
5. Rhubarb – Rhubarb has a lot of fiber, vitamin K, and calcium.  Like spinach, it also is high in oxalates so it doesn’t absorb some of the calcium, but the level of calcium is high enough, you still gain the benefits of the calcium when consumed. 
6. Edamame and Tofu -  Edamame are young soybeans, often sold while still encased in the pod.  One cup of edamame packs 10% of the RDI for calcium.  Tofu that been prepared with calcium also has exceptionally high amounts.  You can get 86% of the RDI for calcium in just half a cup.
7. Figs -  Dried figs are rich in antioxidants and fiber.  They also have more calcium than other dried fruits.  Figs provide 5% of the RDI for calcium in 1 ounce.    
8. Nuts - Nuts are one of the highest non-dairy sources of calcium, and almonds offer the most;  100 grams of almonds contains 254 mg which works out to 26% of the RDI.  
9. Milk Alternatives - Unsweetened almond milk has virtually no calcium but is generally fortified with calcium.  Rice milk, unsweetened, has 283 mg of calcium per cup, and goat’s milk contains 300 mg of calcium in a cup. 
10. There are also many, many processed foods and drinks fortified with calcium.  

Bones need calcium to stay strong and healthy.  Even if you are not a fan of dairy, these foods can help you reach your recommended daily intake of calcium.  Try to add one or two to your diet to help boost your bone health.  

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