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Best nondairy sources of calcium

How much calcium you need, and where to find it outside the dairy aisle.

We’re accustomed to thinking of calcium in terms of dairy foods such as milk, yogurt, and cheese. While these are excellent sources of this bone-building mineral, they’re not the only sources. Other foods can supplement your calcium intake, or supplant it if you’re vegan, lactose-intolerant, or just not fond of milk and yogurt.

“You can get adequate calcium through diet, not including dairy products,” says Dr. Walter Willett, who is chair of the nutrition department at the Harvard School of Public Health. Dark green leafy vegetables, fish, and tofu are all rich in calcium. However, you may have to increase your intake of some of these foods—particularly vegetables like broccoli and kale—because your body may not absorb the calcium in these foods as well as it does the calcium in dairy foods, Dr. Willett says.

How much calcium should you get each day? The Recommended Dietary Allowance for women ranges from 1,000 to 1,200 milligrams (mg). Ideally, you want to get your daily calcium from food. Studies have linked calcium supplements to heart problems as well as to kidney stones. If you’re falling short in your diet, then you can talk with your doctor about adding a supplement.

Calcium beyond the dairy aisle

Here are a few other places in your supermarket to find calcium:

Fish

  • Canned sardines in oil, with bones, 3 ounces—325 mg

  • Pink canned salmon with bones, 3 ounces—181 mg

Soy

  • Calcium-fortified soymilk, 8 ounces—299 mg

  • Firm tofu made with calcium sulfate, ½ cup—253 mg

Juice

  • Calcium-fortified orange juice, 6 ounces—261 mg

Cereal and bread

  • Calcium-fortified breakfast cereal,
    1 cup—100–1,000 mg

  • Corn tortilla, 6-inch—46 mg

Produce

  • Turnip greens, boiled, ½ cup—99 mg

  • Kale, cooked, 1 cup—94 mg

  • Bok choy, raw, 1 cup—74 mg

  • Broccoli, raw, ½ cup—21 mg

Don’t forget the D

Calcium’s partner in bone building is vitamin D. The current recommendation for older women is 600 to 800 international units (IU) of this vitamin daily. As with calcium, fortified milk and other dairy products are also a good source of vitamin D. Nondairy foods containing vitamin D include:

Fish

  • Swordfish, cooked, 3 ounces—566 IU

  • Salmon (sockeye), cooked, 3 ounces—
    447 IU

  • Tuna fish, canned in water, 3 ounces—
    154 IU

  • Sardines, canned in oil, 2 sardines—46 IU

Juice

  • Fortified orange juice, 1 cup—137 IU

Other sources

  • Fortified margarine, 1 tablespoon—60 IU

  • 1 large egg—41 IU

Posted by: Dr.Health

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