Milk and dairy foods don’t have to be the only source for your calcium needs. Other options are available to meet your required daily requirement (RDA).
Most of us equate obtaining enough calcium with consuming enough milk and other dairy products. What if your diet excludes these products? What other foods contain calcium?
Importance of Calcium
Calcium is a mineral and is the most abundant in the body. According to The New Becoming Vegetarian, ninety-nine percent of the body’s calcium is found in bones and teeth. It is calcium’s role to harden the bone. It takes approximately 20-30 years to reach maximum bone strength. After the age of 30, bone mass declines gradually. The amount of decline is dependent upon dietary habits, exercise, as well as hormonal balance.
Smaller functions, but still quite vital, of calcium include blood clotting, muscle relaxation, nerve cell message transmission, regulation of cell metabolism, as well as preventing hypertension.
Plant food options
Let’s break down some other options for obtaining adequate calcium in your diet:
Kale and other leafy vegetables
Look to various green plants for your dose of calcium: broccoli, Asian greens, collards, kale, okra, mustard greens and turnip greens. These choices actually have low amounts of oxylates, which are plant acids. This allows for higher absorption of the calcium; their absorption is actually higher than that of cow’s milk.
Hijiki, arame, and wakame are all forms of seaweeds and have high calcium content. Though not a common staple in the American household, they can be found in a dehydrated form in many Asian markets or specialty stores. Once rehydrated they can be added to soups, salads, and stir-fries. Consider a new experience.
Tofu is made from soy milk that has been injected with a coagulant. Calcium and magnesium are also added and can be one of the best sources for calcium in your diet.
All beans have some calcium, but the highest content of calcium can be found in white beans, black turtle beans, and soybeans.
The label of certain beverages will tell you if calcium has been added to the product. The most common household beverage fortified with calcium is the morning glass of orange juice. If the juice has been fortified, it will contain the same amount of calcium as a cup of cow’s milk. The calcium tends to settle to the bottom of the container, so shake it up before pouring.
Nuts, sesame seeds, and their butters
Almonds are one of the best choices for calcium. An ounce of almonds contains 80 mg of calcium. Have you tried almond butter? It not only has good calcium content, but the taste is outstanding; use in place of peanut butter.
Many ready-to-eat cereals are fortified with calcium and may contain enough to meet the daily requirements. Check the nutritional label on your favorite brand of cereal.
Milk and dairy foods don’t have to be the only source for your calcium needs. Choose a variety of foods, some common, and some, not so common, to successfully achieve your recommended daily allowances.