You Don’t Have To Eat Dairy To Get Your Calcium Intake

Calcium is an important mineral for your health. Much of your bones and teeth are comprised of it and other things like heart health, muscle function and nerve signalling are impacted by it too.

The recommended daily intake (RDI) of calcium is 1,000 mg per day for most adults; however a large percentage of the population doesn’t meet these needs in their diet.

For many people, calcium is best known to come from dairy products, but that’s not always the case as non-dairy products hold abundances of calcium too. 

1. Seeds

Chia seeds aren’t called a superfood for no reason. They are incredibly high in calcium and deliver proteins and healthy fats like omega-3. But the best thing about chia seeds in my opinion is that you can easily incorporate them into your daily diet. My favourite way to use chia seeds is in a ‘pudding’ for breakfast. Delicious!

Other seeds that are packed full of calcium include poppy and sesame seeds. It is good to note that not all seeds have the same amount of calcium. 

2. Bean and Lentils

Not only do some varieties of beans and lentils contain a high content of calcium, but they’re also easy going on your wallet. Of a plant-rich diet, beans are talked up to be what keeps people healthy. 

Winged beans are the most calcium rich, with a single cup reaching 24% of your RDI. The next best thing, are cooked white beans – such as cannellini beans – which deliver 13% of your calcium RDI.

3. Sardines

Filled with tiny, edible bones canned sardines are great sources of calcium, not to mention omega-3 fatty acids. According to Healthline, a single can (92 grams) of sardines is equal to 35% of your RDI for calcium. 

Many people turn their nose up at sardines, but you don’t have to eat them straight from the can. You can mix them into a Greek salad, spaghetti, mediterranean casserole, curry and more. Google is your best friend when it comes to finding tasty recipes, so don’t be afraid to get out there and start searching.

4. Almonds

Almonds are the most calcium rich nuts out there, delivering approximately 8% of your RDI when you eat one serving which is about 22 almonds. Almonds are also a great source of healthy fats, protein and magnesium and are fantastic in summer salads

5. Collard Greens

When you think of collard greens, think of your dark, leafy greens such as spinach or kale. This is because collard greens come from the Brassica family like broccoli rabe, bok choy and brussel sprouts. 

These types of vegetables contain a good amount of calcium. Unlike other vegetables, those of the Brassica family are better for calcium intake as they are low in oxalate – a substance that interferes with the absorption of calcium in the body.

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With so many people going #dairyfree, where do you get your calcium? 🥛 Calcium is an essential mineral required for vascular contraction, muscle function, nerve transmission, intracellular signaling and hormonal secretion, blood clotting, and regulation of the heart rhythm. 🥛 The majority of calcium is stored in our bones and teeth as a reservoir, while serum calcium is very tightly regulated. This is why a serum test is not a great representation of total calcium status since calcium is released into the blood stream to maintain homeostatic levels. 🥛 As we age, calcium absorption decreases. Caffeine and alcohol consumption also decrease absorption of calcium 👎🏼 🥛 While spinach and swiss chard have a lot of calcium, they are also very high in oxalates, an anti-nutrient which interferes with absorption of nutrients. Calcium also inhibits the absorption of #iron. 🥛 Other substances that interfere with absorption include phytates, lectins, and tannins. While many of these can be broken down and reduced with cooking, soaking, and sprouting, not everyone can tolerate them well. 🥛 However, calcium absorption is highly bioavailability from low-oxalate vegetables in the Brassica family such as broccoli rabe, kale, collard greens, bok choy, and brussel sprouts 👍🏼 🥛 Even better, fish with edible bones such as sardines and salmon are rich sources of bioavailable calcium, in addition to B12, EPA, and DHA omega-3s. The vitamin D found in these cold water oil fish also improves absorption of calcium 👍🏼 🥛 Here is a full list of non-dairy sources of calcium per 1 cup: 🥛 *Organic tofu (506mg) Cooked collard greens (360mg) Sardines w/ bone (325mg) Broccoli rab (200mg) Kale cooked (180mg) Salmon (180mg) Edamame (175mg) Bok choy (160mg) Almonds [1/2 cup] (180mg) White beans (161mg) Sesame seeds (109mg) Chia [2 tbsp] (175mg) Figs (65mg) 🥛 Talk with your doctor before supplementing with calcium as excessive exogenous calcium can deposit in your tissue and vasculature. 🥛 *While soy is a natural source of calcium, tofu processing with calcium sulfate makes it an even greater source of calcium. 🥛

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You don’t need dairy products such as milk or yogurt to keep your calcium levels in check. There are a variety of plant-based products that can keep you healthy. It never hurts to have a conversation with your doctor to find out what will work best for you. 

You might also like to read 5 simple switches for a healthier diet.

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