Are you worried about your calcium levels on a dairy free lifestyle? Include the following foods in your balanced diet and you can achieve adequate calcium levels without dairy.
Non Dairy Sources of Calcium
- Greens: Broccoli, Kale, Parsley, Bok choy, Watercress, Chinese Cabbage
- Nuts: Almonds, Brazil Nuts, Tahini (sesame seed butter)
- Tofu and Soybeans
- Beans: Red Beans, White beans, Pinot beans
- Soy or Rice milk (calcium fortified)
- Canned Sardines and Salmon (including the bones)
These natural food sources allow a large of amount of calcium to be absorbed by your body, even more so than dairy products. Dairy foods, believed to be a great source of calcium, create an acid-forming effect on the body. This effect can pull calcium out of the bones, where you need it, rather than increasing calcium levels. Green plant foods are known to help alkalise your blood pH levels which enables more effective calcium absorption. Other foods, like spinach and soft drinks contain compounds that also reduce how much calcium is absorbed and used properly in your body.
Eating nutrient, dense non-dairy whole foods will also provide you with high amounts of other essential minerals and vitamins important for calcium absorption and keep your bones strong.
The following foods contain the same amount of calcium as 1 serving of milk:
- 2/3 cup almonds with skin
- 1/2 tin sardines or 1 tin canned salmon
- 100g firm tofu
- 1 cup fortified soy, rice drink
- 2 cups of broccoli, 1.5 cups of kale, 1 cup of bok choy or 1/2 cup cooked Chinese cabbage
What you need to know about calcium…
- It is the most abundant mineral in the body
- About 99% of the calcium is found in your bones and teeth and is utilised for structure and strength
- Also involved in muscle contractions, fluid balance and the transmission of nerve signals
If you find yourself struggling to eat all those greens and fish to meet your daily calcium requirements, a calcium supplement may be the way to go. Care must be taken when using calcium supplements as calcium may deposit in other places in the body like the kidneys or into blood vessels. Seek advice from a qualified practitioner to determine the correct supplement for yourself, if required.