Calcium is an incredibly important nutrient for human health. In fact, your body has more calcium stored than any other mineral, as it makes up a significant part of your teeth and bones, not to mention plays a key role in critical bodily functions like cardiovascular health and muscle function.
Unfortunately, studies show that a large percentage of the population is deficient in calcium, which can have serious health consequences. Especially for those that are allergic or sensitive to dairy products, getting enough calcium can be challenging if you don’t know where else to look.
Your body has more calcium stores than any other mineral
Before getting into the top food sources of calcium (that don’t include milk), know that calcium is essential not only for bone health, but for protecting against high blood pressure, diabetes and cancer.
The minimum daily RDA (recommended daily allowance) for calcium is 1,000 mg per day for men between the ages of 19-70, 1,200 mg per day for men above the age of 70, 1,000 mg per day for women from 19-50, and 1,200 mg per day for women over the age of 50.
Without further ado, here is how to get more calcium in your diet, no milk necessary.
Not only are seeds an excellent source of healthy fats, but a few types are packed full of calcium. The best seed choices for calcium include poppy, sesame, and chia seeds. One tablespoon of poppy seeds offers about 13% of the RDA for calcium. Sprinkle these on your salad or mix them into your favorite morning smoothie.
If you can digest cheese without any problems, it is a great source of easily digestible calcium. Parmesan offers the most at 28 grams per ounce, which is a whopping 31% of the RDA. Soft cheeses contain significantly less, so opt for a hard cheese to maximize your calcium intake.
Sardines are also one of the best calcium sources, because you are eating their bones! These tasty little fish are also a nutrient dense protein and provide an impressive amount of anti-inflammatory omega 3 fatty acids. One small can of sardines offers over 30% of the RDA for calcium, and wild, canned salmon comes in a close second.
Plain yogurt is a good source of probiotics (good gut bacteria), and also provides 30% of the RDA for calcium in a one cup serving. Try combining yogurt with chia seeds for a breakfast or afternoon snack, and meet almost half of your body’s daily calcium requirement.
A serving of almonds contains heart-healthy fats and works well for making you feel full and maintain healthy blood sugar throughout the day. On top of that, these tasty treats also provide 8% of the RDA for calcium in a one ounce serving (about the size of one small handful).
All beans and lentils are a decent source of calcium, but winged beans top the list at 24% of the RDA in just a single cup. Runners up include white beans, followed by most other varieties of beans and lentils.
Leafy Green Vegetables
As if there weren’t enough reasons to include leafy greens in your diet, calcium is another. Leafy greens are essential for getting important minerals like magnesium, and the types highest in calcium include collard greens, spinach, and kale.
Last but not least, we have figs. Not only are dried figs absolutely delicious, but they are high in fiber, vitamins, minerals and a one ounce serving provides 5% of the RDA for calcium.
Supplementing with a high quality calcium supplement could also be a smart idea, especially if you aren’t a fan of the foods listed above. But consult your doctor first.
There you have it! This is how to get more calcium in your diet without milk. Of course, dairy is an easy, inexpensive and reliable way to meet your calcium requirement, but it isn’t necessary if you include other, calcium-rich foods in adequate amounts.
By Rachel Fiske