This is a topic I actually debated with my pediatirican a few years back. He wanted to know how many servings of milk my boys drank a day and when I told him zero he was extremely concerned. At that point, I was basing my decsion on books I’d read, guidance from our chiropractor and the fact that both of our boys’ allergies seemed to improve when their dairy consumption was limited.
I’m not saying I knew more than our pediatrician. I actually really respect him and think he’s a great doctor. I’m just saying that I think we sometimes limit our dietary guidance to one strict way of doing things (or to misguided or outdated information) when we are all unique individuals with unique dietary needs who can benefit from different dietary theories. I’ve recently learned through my health coaching studies that our need for calcium is generally overstated and misunderstood. You can read more about that here.
In general, our daily calcium needs probably fall somewhere between 500 mg and 1200 mg a day (depending on our age). A glass of milk provides about 400 mg a day and the average person eating a somewhat healthy diet gets about 300 mg a day, not counting dairy sources or fortified foods. But what if you don’t eat dairy? How do you bridge the gap from the 300 mg you’re probably getting to the 500/700 mg you might need?
If your lactose intolerant or simply choose not to eat dairy, here are some examples of non-dairy foods that are healthy source of calcium. These are muchbetter than calcium fortefied breads or cereals and definitely healtheir than consuming 3 or 4 glasses of milk for the sole purpose of increasing your daily calcium intake. Not to mention the added nutrition you get from the extra nuts, veggies and legumes in your diet.
- 1/2 cup of almonds – 350 mg
- 1 cup shrimp – 300 mg
- 1/2 cup of cooked spinach – 146 mg
- 1/2 cup of walnuts – 140 mg
- 1/2 cup of cooked turnip greens – 124 mg
- 1/2 cup of canned white beans – 96 mg
- 1/2 cup of cooked kale – 96 mg
- 1 cup of garbanzo beans (can be used to make hummus) – 95 mg
- 1 cup cooked quinoa – 80 mg
- 1 cup of black beans – 80 mg
Sea vegetables like nori and kombu are also excellent sources of calcium and delicious mixed into salads.
Are you dairy free? Do you take a calcium supplement or do you rely on alternate, non-dairy sources of calcium?