There are many ways to get calcium from foods other than dairy products. In fact, you might already be aware that we are UNABLE to absorb the calcium in cow's milk; in contrast, our bodies actually PULL CALCIUM OUT OF OUR BONES in order to buffer the acidity of our blood when we drink the stuff. See my post on milk for more info.
- Green leafy vegetables contain calcium. Examples are bok choy, kale, mustard greens, dandelion greens, turnip greens, artichokes and broccoli. Out of these options turnip greens have the highest calcium source with 200mg per cup. Fresh broccoli is our favorite. Unfortunately, I have not developed a taste for it raw, but I'm trying. Lightly steamed is better than not at all. Basically, the darker the green, the better the nutrients. Use Romaine lettuce in your salad instead of Iceberg, please!
- Many beans are also fair sources of calcium.
- Some fruits offering good calcium levels are figs, papaya and raisins
- Sesame seeds in particular are very high in calcium and are so easy to add to a diet. They can be sprinkled over salads, added to casseroles, cereals and more. Tahini, which is a paste made from sesame seeds is very high in calcium with 2 tablespoons offering 130mg of calcium. Tahini is delicious spread on a pita, as an addition to a sandwich or added to falafel or humus. Humus which is made from garbanzo beans (chickpeas) offers 60mg per half cup and makes a wonderful dip.
- Almonds are good calcium alternatives. 1 oz. of almonds provides 80mg of calcium. You can make almond milk from almonds to add to cereal or use in baking.
The daily recommended intake of calcium varies according to age, but will average between 500mg and 1000mg.(Dietary Reference Intakes, National Academy of Science, 1997)