Top 10 Calcium Rich Foods (Dairy Free)



Are You Getting Less Calcium Than You Think?

Be sure you’re getting enough calcium to protect your bones, especially if you’ve cut back on cow’s milk.

By Beth Levine

Medically Reviewed by Sanjai Sinha, MD

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Got calcium? Time for a reality check, especially if you drink nondairy milk.
Got calcium? Time for a reality check, especially if you drink nondairy milk.
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Everyone needs calcium throughout life to maintain bone health. If you have rheumatoid arthritis (RA), you especially need to make sure you are getting enough calcium to counter osteoporosis, a medical condition that leads to brittle and fragile bones and that is often a complication of RA. Women especially are at risk because of the loss of estrogen, a bone protector, after menopause. Adult men and women need 1,000 milligrams of calcium daily. Women age 51 and older and men age 71 and older need a little more: 1,200 mg per day.

Cutting Cow's Milk Can Mean Cutting Calcium

“Of course I am getting enough calcium!” you say. “Even though I don’t drink a lot of cow’s milk, I do drink the other ‘milks’ — soy, almond, and rice. They have calcium, right?” Not so fast.

A Canadian study published in the June 2019 issue of The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition suggests that children who drink dairy alternatives are slightly shorter than peers who drink cow's milk. The reason why is not clear, since all these milks have the around the same calcium content. It may be that the calcium in fortified nondairy milks may not be as bioavailable or as well absorbed as calcium from cow's milk.

“Also, when you're drinking a calcium-fortified beverage, the calcium can settle at the bottom — so make sure to shake well before drinking,” says Amy Gorin, RDN, owner of Amy Gorin Nutrition in Jersey City, New Jersey.

Top Sources of Calcium

Drinking less cow's milk isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Many people are lactose intolerant, or they choose to follow a vegan or paleo diet. However, Gorin says, "If you cut back on one calcium source, it's important to add your calcium back into your diet in some way, whether that's through other dairy such as yogurt and cottage cheese, through legumes, beans, or leafy green vegetables, or through supplements if you're not getting enough food-based sources.”

For instance, one cup of canned white beans offers 191 mg calcium (19 percent of the daily value). Other calcium rich foods include:

  • Legumes and seeds Chickpeas, lentils, dry peas and beans, sunflower seeds, sesame seeds, tofu, edamame
  • Fruits and vegetablesBroccoli, watercress, bok choy, green beans, kale, carrots, figs, sweet potatoes, oranges, butternut squash, kelp, broccoli rabe
  • DairyYogurt, cheese, kefir
  • FishCanned sardines, rockfish
  • Calcium-fortified foodsOrange juice and cereal

Combine Foods

“You should also think about food pairing. Some components in food actually bind to calcium and may inhibit absorption,” says Gorin. For instance, spinach has a high level of oxalic acid and when eaten in the same setting as milk, it may decrease the absorption of the calcium in milk. This is why you should focus on eating a varied, balanced diet — so that you make sure you’re taking in all the nutrients you need. “I recommend keeping a food journal. You can either do this by hand or use an app like MyFitnessPal,” Gorin says.

What About Supplements?

After tracking your intake, if you don’t feel that you’re getting enough calcium from food, consider supplementing. Talk to your doctor before you start anything; calcium supplements can interact negatively with certain medications. For instance, says Gorin, calcium may decrease absorption when taken with bisphosphonates, which are used to treat osteoporosis. When you have the green light, divide your daily calcium pills into two doses, says Gorin. She says you’ll absorb the most from your calcium supplement when you take a dose that’s 500 mg or less.

Supplement Side Effects

You might experience side effects such as gas, bloating, or constipation.






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Date: 12.12.2018, 13:18 / Views: 81261