If you are restricting dairy, can you really get enough calcium?
Calcium Rich Foods
Calcium is an essential mineral that is needed for bone mineralization (bones and teeth), muscle contraction (heart), nerve transmission, and blood clotting. But are you getting enough? In a naturopathic practice, patients are frequently prescribed an elimination diet or a detox diet that removes the common allergens of dairy, wheat, eggs, soy, corn, shellfish, and nuts. Many people are horrified by this suggestion, and then ask how they will get their calcium if they don’t drink milk. They are explained that many people in the world don’t drink milk because they are lactose intolerant, it’s not part of their culture, or they have an allergy to the milk protein. There are many foods they can eat to ensure they get their daily recommendation of calcium.
The Daily Recommended Allowance (RDA) according to Health Canada is:
700 mg for children 1-3 years
1000 mg for children 4-8 years
1300 mg for 9-18 years
1000 mg for 19-50 years (and men 50+)
1200 mg for 50 + years (women)
You can ensure that you and your family are getting enough calcium by incorporating about 3 calcium rich servings a day. Here are some options.
3-1/2 oz. of sardines provide the body with 370 mg of calcium. Sardines should be eaten with their soft bones because the bones hold up to 50 per cent of the calcium of the fish.
2. Canned salmon
Salmon has been praised for its high content of omega-3 fatty acids, but it’s also a powerhouse when it comes to calcium. 3 oz. of salmon (with bones) delivers 180 mg of calcium and is a delicious alternative to chicken or meat.
3. Blackstrap molasses
This sweet syrup contains 170 mg of calcium per serving. Go ahead and add it to your meal.
Amaranth is one of the newest grains to hit health-food shelves, even though it’s been around for a while. You will see it in various cereals and crackers, but it’s even more delicious and nutritious when it’s made fresh at home as an alternative to rice. A 1/2 cup provides the body with 150 mg of calcium.
Tofu is a great alternative to chicken or beef in stir-fries, and is delicious when marinated in your favourite flavours. 3-1/2 oz. of tofu contains 125 mg of calcium.
Beans are good any time of year, whether in soup, a refreshing salad, comforting chili or on their own and they’re a great way to add fibre, protein and calcium to your diet. Whether you choose white beans, navy beans, chickpeas or another favourite, you’ll obtain anywhere from 60-100 mg of calcium per 1/2 cup serving.
Whether eaten alone, thrown in a salad or used as a crust on chicken or fish, almonds are one of the tastiest ways to reach your recommended daily intake of calcium. A handful (1/4 cup) of almonds contains 95 mg of calcium and are also a great source of fibre, protein and monounsaturated fats.
8. Sesame seeds
Sesame seeds add a nice finish to any plate and are a fast and easy way to get some extra calcium. One tablespoon contains 90 mg of calcium, so sprinkle away.
9. Turnip greens
Boiled turnip greens contain 95 mg of calcium per 1/2 cup serving, and okra, bok choy and broccoli follow with 35 to 50 mg per serving. Steam, roast or simply toss them into your next stir-fry.
In the mood for something sweet? Then reach for figs. Two dried figs offer 55 mg of calcium. This treat is also high in iron and fiber.
One cup of raw kale is loaded with 90 mg of calcium. That means a baby kale salad provides even more calcium than one cup of milk.
One cup of boiled soybeans (edamame) packs 261 mg of calcium.
It’s also important to remember that regular consumption of red meat; salt, caffeine, alcohol, saturated fats and carbonated soft drinks reduce or inhibit calcium absorption. Everything in moderation is a good rule of thumb, but if you follow this list, you’re on the right path to getting your daily dose of calcium.