Dairy Free Calcium
When you first tell someone you are lactose intolerant to cows and goats milk products, the first response is “But what about Calcium?”
And it was a worry initially but I began looking into alternate sources of calcium, the result is less dire!
Food intolerances and vegans are two groups within the community who may struggle with getting enough calcium but there are ways to get enough calcium through a dairy free diet.
What is Calcium and what do we need it for?
Calcium is a nutrient that is needed for nerve and muscle function, blood clotting, enzyme regulation, insulin secretion, overall bone strength, passage of nutrients in and out of the cells, prevention of muscle cramps and overall heart health.
A deficiency of calcium can lead to osteoporosis, a degenerative bone condition which causes the bones to become brittle increasing your risk of fractures and breaks.
So obviously this is something we want to prevent for the future!
The Dairy industry will have you believe that you need to consume dairy to fulfil your calcium requirements, and yes dairy does give you a whack of calcium however it is not the only source of calcium through the diet.
But before we discuss Calcium sources, let’s talk about how much calcium we need in our diets daily.
How much Calcium do we Need?
The Australian government has guidelines in relation to Calcium consumption daily and this alters throughout our lifetime based upon our growth periods and other hormonal stages.
The recommendations are:
Age Recommended Dietary Intake (RDI)
0-6 months 210mg/day
7-12 months 270mg/day
1-3 years 500mg/day
4-8 years 700mg/day
9-11 years 1,000mg/day
12-13 years 1,300mg/day
14-18 years 1,300mg/day
19-30 years 1,000mg/day
31-50 years 1,000mg/day
51-70 year WOMEN 1,300mg/day
51-70 year MEN 1,000mg/day
>70 years 1,000mg/day
Sourced from: https://www.nrv.gov.au/nutrients/calcium
Women require more calcium between the age group of 51-70 years as this is the time that oestrogen declines which is a protective mechanism for our bones.
A greater amount of calcium is needed during pregnancy as there is a new bunch of bones being formed!
Dairy Free Sources of Calcium:
So now we know how much calcium we need, we need to know where we can get it!
1. Fish with Bones
Consuming fish such as sardines or salmon that contain bones are great sources of calcium. The bones is where the calcium is stored and 100g of salmon or sardines with bones contains a whooping 300mg of calcium (the same as a glass of milk). So not only do you get the benefits of omega 3 fatty acids, DHA and EPA, but you also have the knowledge that you are consuming calcium and nearly a 1/3 of your daily requirement!
2. Nuts and Seeds
Nuts and seeds contain a wide variety of nutrients and now we also know they contain calcium.
Chia seeds in particular have a high dose of calcium, 15g of chia seeds contain 120mg of calcium, sesame seeds and in particular tahini (sesame seed paste) contains 80mg of calcium in 1 teaspoon which is a pretty big dose for such a little amount as I know that I can never add only 1 teaspoon to my meal!
1/4 of a cup of almonds contains 70mg of calcium which is another good source.
3. Leafy Green Veggies
What do these guys not give us?
1 cup of cooked leafy green veggies such as kale, bok choy, spinach, silverbeet or Chinese cabbage contains 180mg of calcium.
Even 1 cup of broccoli gives us 70mg of calcium.
4. Beans and Pulses
Beans and pulses are such great ways to feed our gut bugs and also our bones!
Soy beans in particular tofu contains 100mg of calcium in a 60g piece. Even 1 cup of Soy Milk can contain up to 30mg of calcium.
1/2 a cup of cooked dried beans contain 80mg of calcium.
Oats are powerhouses of nutrients and with calcium in there also, what’s not to love? 1/2 cup of raw oats contains 100mg of calcium!
So how do we put this all together?
Below is an example of some meals that are calcium rich and that can be incorporated into your diet:
Overnight oats made with 1/2 cup of oats and 15g of chia seeds stirring through some soy milk. Topped with fruit and some nuts and seeds.
Green leafy veggies with some felafels and drizzled with tahini
Salmon patties served with broccoli and some other veggies.
Should you Supplement?
If you believe you are struggling to achieve your calcium requirement, supplement may be something that is suitable for you however discussing this with a practitioner is highly recommended.
At Naturological, we do not agree with removing any food group unless it is for personal or health reasons. Please see a practitioner if you do have to remove any food group to ensure you are getting enough nutrients and supporting your health.
If you are struggling with out to implement a dairy free lifestyle, please be in touch.