Calcium is a very important nutrient that we need to make sure we are getting enough of. Aside from promoting bone health, calcium is also important for muscle and nerve health. It also “helps blood vessels move blood throughout your body and helps release hormones that affect many functions in your body.”  However, for individuals who do not consume dairy, an entire calcium-rich food group is removed from the picture. When the daily recommended amount of calcium ranges from 1000mg-1300mg, depending on the age group from age four to 71+ years, the loss of a calcium-dense food group might seem daunting. There’s no need to worry, though, because there are still plenty of options left that are dairy-free and delicious.
Of course, different fortified non-dairy products like soy milk or almond milk are a great non-dairy alternative for consuming calcium, but there are also a plethora of other options available. The 2020-2025 Dietary Guidelines for Americans provided by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and the U.S. Department of Agriculture lists a variety of foods in different food categories that contain varying amounts of calcium.  Within this list, we will be looking at vegetables, protein products, and fruit products that can provide you with enough calcium to reach the daily recommended amount if consumed in multiple servings.
○ 1 cup of cooked mustard spinach provides 284 mg of calcium
○ 1 cup of cooked collard greens provides 268 mg of calcium
○ 1 cup of cooked spinach provides 245 mg of calcium
○ 1 cup of cooked lambsquarters (a common weed) provides 464 mg of calcium
● Protein products
○ 3 oz of canned sardines provides 325 mg of calcium
○ 3 oz of canned salmon with the bone provides 181 mg of calcium
○ 1 tbsp of Tahini (sesame paste) provides 154 mg of calcium
● Fruit products
○ Fortified 100% grapefruit juice provides 350 mg of calcium
○ Fortified 100% orange juice provides 349 mg of calcium
All these products are great alternatives to daily products if you’re looking for ways to increase your calcium intake, and these aren’t even all the options! Whether you consume dairy or not, you should know that there are plenty of alternatives that exist to fit the diet or lifestyle of your choice.
1. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. (2021, November 17). Office of dietary supplements - calcium. NIH Office of Dietary Supplements. https://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/Calcium-Consumer/.
2. Current dietary guidelines. Food Sources of Calcium | Dietary Guidelines for Americans.
Author: Lauryn Agron
Editor: Kayjah Taylor
Health scientist: Ashlee Lee