When people think of good sources of calcium, they generally think of cow's milk and other dairy products. But dairy is not the only good source of calcium. There are many non-dairy sources you choose from!
Fun Facts About Calcium:
We all know that calcium is needed for healthy bones. In fact, it's the most abundant mineral in the body. But it also has many other vital functions including regulating blood pressure, facilitating muscle contractions, and nerve conduction. It also binds with bile acids and dietary fats so that they are carried out of the body and eliminated instead of being absorbed, which is important for colon health. It is recommended that adults get 1000mg of calcium per day.
The Other Half of the Equation:
When you consume any form of calcium, your body needs vitamin D to absorb it. Vitamin D is found naturally in only a small number of foods and most of these are of animal origin. Fish (like salmon, tuna, and mackerel) and fish liver oils have some of the highest amounts. Vitamin D is also found in smaller amounts in cheese and egg yolks. Today, many processed foods are fortified with vitamin D.
Without sufficient vitamin D, bones can become brittle because calcium will not be absorbed. In addition, vitamin D has other roles in the body including modulating neuromuscular and immune function and aiding in the reduction of inflammation.
The body is able to synthesize vitamin D from UV rays from sunlight on the skin. Sunlight is one of the best ways to get vitamin D, but if you are not able to be outside much with some skin exposed, or you have very dark skin, you may need to consider a Vitamin D supplement. The RDA for vitamin D is 600 IU, but you may need more if you are deficient.
Back to Calcium... Where can I get it?
No need to rely only on dairy products for that daily dose of calcium. Here is a list of some food items that are good sources of calcium that you may not have known about.
1) Almonds: 1/4 cup = 72mg (7% DV)
Aside from calcium, almonds contain potassium, vitamin E, and iron. Sprinkle on a salad or have a handful as a snack.
2) Seaweed: 1 cup raw = 126mg (13% DV)
Seaweed is full of calcium, fiber, and iodine, which helps with proper thyroid function. Try these raw kelp noodles
3) Blackstrap molasses: 1 TBSP = 172mg (17% DV)
Blackstrap molasses is darker in color and richer in flavor than regular molasses. It's filled with calcium, iron, and other vitamins. Plus, it’s a great sweeten many dishes that call for sugar, honey, or other sweeteners. Try drizzling some on pancakes in lieu of syrup.
4) Black-eyed peas: 1/2 cup canned = 185mg (18% DV)
Calcium, potassium, folate, and more! Add black-eyed peas to soups or salads, or make your own bean dip.
5) White beans 1 cup canned = 191mg (19% DV)
These legumes are a great source of calcium and iron . Add them to a pasta dish with veggies or make your own hummus with white beans instead of chickpeas.
6) Kale: 2 cups raw = 188mg (19% DV)
Filled with calcium and antioxidants, kale is perfect to use as the base of any salad, or blend into smoothies to sneak in an extra health boost.
If you're feeling adventurous....
7) Nopales (cactus) 100g = 164mg (16% DV)
Nopales can be eaten raw in salads or made into salsa (with tomato, onion, olive oil, seasoning). Or try fried or boiled as a side dish.
8) Sardines 5oz = 541mg (!)
I'll be honest.. sardines weird me out so I'm at a loss for ideas on how to eat them But if you like them, go for it! They have almost double the amount of calcium as an 8oz glass of milk.