Dairy free calcium rich foods
If you or your children are following a dairy free diet, you may be concerned about ensuring adequate calcium intake. Calcium is one of the most abundant minerals in our bodies, and while it is most commonly thought of in terms of bones and teeth, it is also important for muscle development, stable blood pressure and healthy skin.
The myth that dairy is the only source of calcium is pervasive and even many health care professionals don’t realise that it’s not the be all and end all of calcium sources.
While dairy is the most common (and well marketed) source of calcium, there are actually loads of other foods that are great sources of calcium. In fact, many of the foods below have more ‘bioavailable’ calcium than dairy products. Not all calcium can be absorbed by the body – so the amount of calcium in a food product is not the be all and end all, it is the amount of absorbable calcium that’s the key. Vitamin D and Magnesium are two other vitally important minerals that assist the body to absorb and utilise calcium, so you need to make sure you’re getting enough of these too.
So if you’re dairy free and worried about getting enough calcium, or if you have an annoying aunty/grandparent/neighbour/random-guy-on-the-street worried about your calcium intake, check out this list of easy-to-find dairy free calcium rich foods.
Please note – soy milk, tofu and edamame beans all have high levels of calcium, however as we are soy free as well as dairy free due to cow’s milk and soy protein intolerance (CMPI), I haven’t included them in this list. So this is a list of dairy free and soy free calcium rich foods.
Dairy free calcium rich foods
Easy to find supermarket products:
- Tinned salmon (with bones) (310mg per 100g)
- Sardines (540mg per 100g)
- Dark leafy greens like bok choy, broccoli and kale (50-100mg per 100g)
- Almonds (264mg per 100g) and brazil nuts (160mg per 100g)
- Oranges (40mg per 100g)
- Chia seeds (631mg per 100g)
- Sesame seeds (975mg per 100g)
- Seaweed (70mg per 100g)
Foods fortified with calcium:
Lots of supermarket products are fortified with calcium these days – just keep an eye out for the label. Often the packet will say ‘for healthy bones’, or something like that.
- Non-dairy milks like oat, rice or almond. The oat milk the Stuntman drinks is fortified with calcium and has the same amount as cow’s milk (around 300mg per 250ml serve).
- Orange juice
- Breakfast cereals
Other dairy free calcium rich foods:
- Blackstrap molasses
- Bone broth
Blackstrap molasses is available in health food shops and *some* supermarkets, and is a great source of calcium.
Bone broth is all the rage right now, with lots of different health benefits, one being a good dose of calcium. If you can stomach it, give it a go!
The recommended daily intake (RDI) of calcium is 1000mg for women aged 18 – 50 years, and 1300mg per day for women over 50. For tiny bubs between 0 and 6 months, 210mg per day is the goal, and for bubs between 7-12 months the RDI is 270mg per day. The RDI for toddlers between 1 and 3 years is 500mg per day.
Do you worry about calcium intake?
Did any of these foods surprise you with their calcium levels?