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Cranking Up the Calcium — Without Dairy

non-dairy sources of calcium
Dr. Lindsey Mcilvena, MD

In her day job, treating patients living with chronic disease, nutrition and lifestyle are not after-thoughts, they’re central to helping her patients get well. She’s also our go-to expert on plant-based diets.

You’ve heard a million times that calcium helps make your bones strong—but did you also know that it keeps your heart rhythm in sync, keeps your muscles contracting well, helps babies grow well in the womb, and regulate a whole host of a body’s proteins and enzymes?

Calcium is the most abundant mineral inside us, and our body keeps it within a narrow range to ensure proper functioning of our system as a whole. Too much calcium in the blood stream can be a warning sign of hormonal problems or some types of cancer. Too little calcium can be present as a result of kidney problems, autoimmune diseases, or imbalances of other minerals like magnesium.

As the graph below shows, we need about 1,000-1200mg of calcium per day. Here’s the breakdown:

We’ve all heard that dairy products contain calcium, but what if you don’t eat dairy products and are on a mostly plant-based diet? Wondering where you can find calcium?

If you’re abiding by a SuperFoodsRx style diet, with lots of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and legumes, you’re definitely getting calcium in your diet. Collard greens, black beans, Great Northern Beans, figs, and tofu contain impressive amounts of calcium. Sweet potatoes, brussels sprouts, navel oranges, raisins, butternut squash, and kale have less, but still quite a bit. You can also find fortified rice milk, soy milk, and orange juice, which usually contain about 300mg of calcium per 8 ounce glass.

Never fear, you can find abundant calcium in plant foods, you just have to know where to look.

calcium facts

Sources: Oregon State, Cleveland Clinic

 

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