Consumers are encouraged to consume more food rich in calcium for the prevention of osteoporosis, which is caused in part from a calcium-deficient diet. While dairy products are widely accepted as a great source of calcium, many other plant sources also provide calcium. Lettuce, vegetables, soy products and some nuts and seeds are good non-dairy calcium sources
Calcium is an essential nutrient for humans. It is deposited in our teeth and bones, and is needed to keep them strong. Calcium also supports nerve and muscle function and helps with blood clotting. The body can not survive without calcium so when calcium is too low, the body will leach calcium from the bones to function properly. In turn, leaving bones fragile and at risk for fracture or osteoporosis.
It is recommended that children aged 4-8 consume 800 mg of calcium each day and children 9-18 consume 1300 mg per day. Adults aged 19 through 50 should consume 1,000 mg of calcium each day and adults over 51 should consume 1,200 mg per day. Some studies suggest that senior adults with a higher intake of calcium are less prone to fractures and osteoporosis.
Daily calcium needs can be affected by excessive intake of protein. Some studies suggest that diets high in protein, particularly animal proteins, may lead to depletion of calcium in the body. When excess protein is consumed, calcium leached from the bones and excreted in the urine. This loss can leave bones more brittle and increase the risk of bone fractures. Studies have also suggested that a lack of physical activity or high intake of dairy, sodium, caffeine or alcohol can also clear the calcium stores in the body.
Leafy greens and vegetables
spinach, turnip greens, mustard greens and collard greens are good sources of calcium. Based on nutrition density, a relationship between the amount of calcium in food in relation to the amount of calories, these greens are the best sources of calcium and rank higher than dairy products. Indeed containing 3/4 cup of green vegetables more calcium than a cup of cow’s milk.
Other greens that are a great source of calcium include Swiss chard, romaine lettuce, kale and cabbage. Vegetables, such as bok choy, celery, broccoli, summer squash, green beans, Brussels sprouts, okra, kelp (sea vegetable) and asparagus are also good plant sources of calcium.
Many ready-made foods, such as orange juice and cereals are fortified with calcium. Look for products that say they are fortified with calcium.
Besides, most soy milk, rice milk and other non-dairy milks are fortified with calcium, like most soy products and dairy substitutes. Tofu is also a great source of calcium, considering that 4 oz. tofu contains more calcium than a cup of cow’s milk.
Sesame seeds, fennel seeds, blackstrap molasses, corn tortillas, almonds, brown sugar, quinoa, oranges and orange juice are also good sources of calcium. Surprisingly, many herbs and spices also contain calcium as basil, dill, thyme, oregano, cinnamon, rosemary, cloves and garlic. In fact, basil, dill, thyme, oregano, cinnamon, rosemary and blackstrap molasses have a better nutritional density of calcium than all dairy products.