Until now, you’ve been told that dairy is a great source of calcium, which is needed for strong bones. Unfortunately, many of us cannot eat dairy, either due to dietary intolerances, allergies, or even personal preference. So what are you supposed to do to keep your bones strong? Well, the good news is, there are plenty of non-dairy food items that are packed with calcium for you to enjoy.
What If I Do Not Consume Enough Calcium?
Those who do not get enough calcium over time can develop osteoporosis. This is the thinning of bone tissue and loss of bone density over time. If not treated immediately, it can lead to fractures and other health complications.
The majority of calcium in the human body is in the form of calcium phosphate in the bones. If you do not consume enough calcium through your diet, your body will try to make up for it by taking the calcium from your bones to ensure normal cell function. This calcium deficiency may not only lead to osteoporosis, but can also lead to mood problems such as irritability, anxiety, depression, and difficulty sleeping.
If you’re concerned about your aging bones and want to keep them strong, opt for these non-dairy foods.
Non-dairy foods packed with calcium for strong bones
|Bok choy||79 mg per ½ cup|
|Beet greens||82 mg per ½ cup|
|Almonds||82 mg per one ounce|
|Pinto beans||86 mg per ½ cup|
|Kale||90 mg per ½ cup|
|White beans||96 mg per ½ cup|
|Tahitian taro root||102 mg per ½ cup|
|Cowpeas||106 mg per ½ cup|
|Nopales||122 mg per ½ cup|
|Spinach||123 mg per ½ cup|
|Turnip greens||125 mg per ½ cup|
|Edamame||131 mg per ½ cup|
|Amaranth leaves||138 mg per ½ cup|
|Mustard green||142 mg per ½ cup|
|Collard greens||188 mg per ½ cup|
|Tempeh||184 mg per one cup|
|Stinging nettles||214 mg per ½ cup|
|Sesame seeds||273 mg per once ounce|
|Tofu||861 mg per ½ cup|
The best part about these food items is that you can combine many of them together in one dish to really boost your calcium levels.
If you’re looking for alternative ways to boost your calcium without the use of dairy, these leafy, nut, and bean varieties can very well help you get in your daily dose of calcium, which is 1,000 mg for men and 1,200 mg for women over the age of 50.
Calcium and Osteoporosis Connection
Osteoporosis is best characterized by the loss of bone mass. It is often called a “silent” disease as many people don’t know they have it until they have broken a bone. Due to weakened bones, fractures in people with osteoporosis can become commonplace, which may lead to serious health risks. Both men and women can be affected by the bone disorder and people with osteoporosis often don’t recover after a fall. For most people, osteoporosis can be prevented, and making sure you have enough calcium in your diet is the best place to start.
Tips for Adding More Calcium from Non-Dairy Foods to Your Diet
When people hear about calcium, they generally think about dairy. But for those who are trying to avoid dairy, there are many other sources of calcium that don’t involve milk or cheese. One of the easiest ways to up your calcium intake is by getting it through greens. They can easily be added into soups, casseroles, or stir-fries. Some good sources of greens that contain calcium are kale, collard greens, broccoli, and cabbage.
Another easy way to up your green intake is by adding a side salad with your meals. Try making a fresh salad with romaine hearts, butter lettuce, arugula, watercress, or red leaf lettuce. Just remember to avoid iceberg lettuce, as it has very little nutrient value.
For those who don’t enjoy salad, you can add extra servings of vegetables to your meals such as broccoli, okra, bok choy, asparagus, and fresh green peas. Instead of serving only side of vegetables, increase it to two and you will help reach your daily calcium goals.
Many vegetarians use beans and legumes as part of their meals, which are not only delicious in stews, chili, and soup, but they also contain a good amount of calcium. They also work well as a replacement for the protein part of a meal instead of meat. Try black beans, tofu, black-eyed peas, or other varieties of dried beans.
There are many ways to include calcium in your daily diet that does not contain dairy. So, whether you are vegan, or just trying to avoid dairy, there are many options still available to get your daily calcium intake.