Calcium is a critical nutrient.
We all know that it is essential for supporting dental and bone health. But calcium does a lot more for us: it plays an active role in nerve function, blood clotting, muscle contraction and other bodily functions. It also protects against osteoporosis, a condition characterized by fragile bones that tends to develop with age.
Calcium is not produced by the body. Therefore it can only be taken through food or supplements.
And while we grew up thinking that we should drink a glass of milk every day or eat a lot of cheese to get the calcium our body needs, this is probably far from the truth.
Calcium is not just in dairy
While dairy is usually the first thing that comes to mind when trying to increase your calcium intake, the truth is that there are many non-dairy foods high in calcium. Some have natural calcium, while others have been supplemented with calcium.
This is especially important if you are lactose intolerant, allergic to dairy or vegan.
See 8 non-dairy foods high in calcium:
In particular, canned seafood, including sardines and bone-in salmon, are particularly good sources of calcium. One can of 105 grams of sardines contains 351 milligrams of calcium. A can of salmon 85 grams with bones contains 180 milligrams of calcium.
In addition to calcium, salmon is also a rich source of vitamin D, which can help your body absorb calcium. It also provides plenty of heart-healthy omega-3 fatty acids and is a good source of lean protein.
Shrimp is another good choice. An 85 gram serving contains 77 milligrams of calcium and is also a lean protein.
Many foods are fortified with calcium and other nutrients. Cereals are usually at the top of this list. Depending on the cereal, you may be taking more than 1,000 milligrams of calcium per 3/4 to 1 cup.
Another basic breakfast – fortified orange juice – can also help you meet your daily requirement of calcium. These juices typically contain 350 to 500 milligrams of calcium per 1 cup.
Non-dairy milks such as oats and almonds are also high in calcium. These drinks can contribute 100 to 300 milligrams per 226 gram serving.
And while they are technically dairy, A2 milk (containing only the A2 form of beta-casein) or milk containing only A2 protein and not a mixture of A1 and A2 protein as is typically the case with cow's milk has been shown to be more digestible. for people with lactose intolerance.
Most people know that leafy vegetables are a healthy part of any diet because they are high in fiber and contain many of the vitamins and minerals needed to stay healthy. But what may be less obvious is that they are also excellent sources of calcium.
- Cabbage – Half a cup of cooked cabbage contains 134 milligrams of calcium.
- Cabbage – Cooked cabbage contains 47 milligrams of calcium per 1/2 cup.
- Spinach – One cup of cooked spinach contains 240 milligrams of calcium.
- Okra – One cup of cooked okra contains 100 milligrams of calcium.
- Broccoli – Although broccoli is not considered a “leafy” vegetable, it is a good source of calcium and fiber. Cooked broccoli contains 31 milligrams of calcium per 1/2 cup.
Beans are good for your heart. They are also rich in fiber, various vitamins and nutrients and are a good source of vegetable protein. They are also excellent sources of calcium.
- Cooked soy beans provide 261 milligrams of calcium per 1 cup.
- Cooked white beans contain 81 milligrams of calcium per 1/2 cup.
- Cooked pinto beans provide 39 milligrams of calcium per 1/2 cup.
- Cooked red beans provide 25 milligrams of calcium per 1/2 cup.
Tofu is made from soy, so it is no surprise that it is a good source of calcium. In addition, many tofu chips are made by adding calcium sulfate, which further increases the content of this important nutrient.
Half a cup of raw tofu made with calcium sulfate contains 434 milligrams of calcium.
Some fruits can also provide a lot of calcium. For example, a medium orange contains 60 milligrams of calcium.
Dried fruits are often an even better source of calcium. For example, dried figs contain 61 milligrams of calcium per 1/4 cup.
These tiny seeds are a very good source of calcium. 1/4 cup of these beige seeds contains 351 milligrams of calcium.
How much calcium is enough?
Daily calcium intake varies by age and gender, based on different needs throughout our lives.
- Children and adolescents aged 9 to 18 years have the highest demands: 1,300 milligrams per day.
- Adults need 1,000 to 1,200 milligrams a day, especially women who are pregnant or breastfeeding.
Three servings of dairy products (milk, yogurt and cheese) daily can provide you with about 1,000 milligrams of calcium, while providing you with 13 essential nutrients. But you can achieve this goal with many non-dairy foods, from the ones we have already mentioned. In addition, some of them will also contribute to your daily needs for vitamin C and fiber.
How to take calcium supplements?
If you have concerns about your calcium levels, talk to your doctor about starting a calcium supplement.
Before taking any calcium supplements it is important to determine if you are deficient. If you are not able to meet your calcium needs through diet alone, a supplement may be a good idea.
If you do this, you should also consider whether you are getting enough vitamin D because this essential nutrient significantly boosts calcium absorption. Complementing both can be helpful.
Vitamin D is also found in a variety of foods, including salmon, sardines and egg yolks. Your body can also produce vitamin D in your skin when exposed to sunlight.