Calcium Sources and Why You Need It
(not just from dairy)
Calcium is the most abundant mineral in the body. 99% of your calcium is in your bones and teeth. You need calcium not just for bone health but also for muscle contractions, heartbeat regulation, blood clotting, hormone production and nervous system support.
What You Need for Calcium Absorption
Just taking a calcium supplement may not be your best bet. Here is what you need for calcium absorption.
- protein consumption, and some fat.
- You also need cofactors such as magnesium, boron, silicon, vitamins D, K, A and C.
- Having these nutrients in the diet will aid the calcium getting into your bones.
What inhibits Calcium Absorption
While some nutrients can aid in calcium absorption, there are also things that can inhibit calcium absorption. This includes:
o Excess phosphorus, magnesium and zinc
o Excess tannins (think black teas)
o Antacids (since it shuts down stomach acid)
What Depletes Calcium Absorption
On the other side of that coin, you may be getting enough calcium in the diet but you may be depleting it by other factors in your diet and lifestyle.
- Soda (the high phosphorus content)
- Vitamin D deficiency
- Excess caffeine
- Certain medications
How Much Calcium Do You Really Need?
Ages 1-3 500 mg.
Ages 4-8 800 mg
Ages 9-13 1300 mg
Ages 19-50 1000 mg.
Ages over 50 1200 mg.
Pregnant 1200 mg
Lactating 1200 mg.
High dose supplementation is not advised since it can disrupt the balance with other nutrients. High dose may also lead to deposition of calcium in arteries. It is best to get most of your calcium from food rather than supplementation.
While many think you HAVE TO eat dairy products to meet your calcium needs, this is not true.
Dairy Sources of Calcium Include
- Yogurt (plain whole milk 6 ounces) 206 mg.
- Cow’s milk (whole, grass fed, 4 ounces) 138 mg.
- Parmesan cheese 1 ounce 331 mg.
- Whey protein powder 1 scoop (1 ounce) 200 mg.
- Goats milk 327 mg per one cup
Non- Dairy Sources of Calcium
- Sardines (whole with bone, canned, 3.5 ounces) 382 mg. (My favorite is Wild Planet Brand)
- Sesame seeds (think tahini butter, hummus) 2 T. 176 mg.
- Collard Greens Cooked, ½ c. 134 mg.
- Spinach cooked, ½ c. 123 mg.
- Almonds 1 ounce 76 mg.
- Figs, dried, 5 figs 70 mg.
- White Beans 1 c. (from can) 191 mg.
- Canned Salmon ½ can with bones in 232 mg.
- Bok Choy 1 c. 74 mg.
- Kale (2 c. raw chopped) 188 mg.
- Black eyes peas (canned) ½ c. 185 mg.
- Oranges (1 medium) 65 mg.
- Turnip Greens (1 c. chopped and cooked) 197 mg.
- Firm Tofu ½ c. 861 mg.
- Poppy Seeds 1 T. 126 mg.
- Amaranth grain 1 c. cooked 116 mg.
- Broccoli 2 stalks cooked 250 mg.
- Sunflower seeds 3 ½ ounce 110 mg.
- Green beans 3 ½ ounce 56 mg.
- Walnuts 3 ½ ounce 90 mg.
You can still meet your calcium needs when avoiding dairy. Whether you are a meat eater, Paleo,vegan or vegetarian, you should be able to get your calcium from beans, grains, vegetables, nuts and/or seeds.
Bauman, E. & Friedlander, J. (2014) Foundations in Nutrition. CA: Bauman College.
Haas, E. & Levin, B. (2006) Staying Healthy with Nutrition. The Complete Guide to Diet
And Nutritional Medicine. CA: Celestial Arts.
Murray, M., Pizzorno, J. & Pizzorno, L. (2005) The Encyclopedia of Healing Foods. NY: Atria Books
Wood, R. (2010) The New Whole Foods Encyclopedia. USA: Penguin Books
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As a nutrition professional, Karen does not treat, cure nor diagnose. This information is for educational purposes only.