Dairy is one of the best sources of calcium, but not everyone consumes dairy. Some people are lactose intolerant, vegan, or just don’t like the taste of milk. Some avoid dairy products for other reasons, too. However, calcium is essential to good bone health, and everyone needs calcium to strengthen bones or prevent bone loss. The good news is that dairy isn’t the only way to get calcium; there are other sources of calcium that aren’t dairy.Calcium is essential to strengthen bones and prevent bone loss. While dairy is a great source of calcium there are other ways to get the calcium you need. Click To Tweet
Sources of calcium that aren’t dairy
Dairy products contain more calcium than other types of food. For example, eight ounces of plain, low fat yogurt contains 415 mg of calcium. However, there are other ways to get the calcium you need each day.
- Almonds, 1 ounce, 80 mg
- Broccoli (raw), 1 cup, 43 mg
- Cereal (calcium-fortified), 1 cup, 100-1,000 mg
- Kale (fresh, cooked), 1 cup, 94 mg
- Kale (raw), 1 cup, 24 mg
- Navy beans (cooked), 1 cup, 126 mg
- Orange juice (calcium-fortified), 6 ounces, 261 mg
- Sardines, 1 can (3 ouncees), 351 mg
- Sesame seeds, 1 tablespoon, 90 mg
- Soy milk (calcium-fortified), 8 ounces, 450 mg
- Tofu (with calcium salt), 1 cup, 861 mg
- Turnip greens (fresh, boiled), 1 cup, 200 mg
Those who do not consume dairy may consider taking a calcium supplement to help meet the daily recommended intake of calcium. Talk to your doctor if you’re interested in taking dietary supplements.
Why is calcium important?
Calcium is the most abundant mineral in the body, and 99% of the body’s calcium is stored in the bones and teeth. If you do not get enough calcium, your bones become brittle and weak over time; this puts you at an increased risk for osteoporosis as you get older.
Consuming foods, beverages, and supplements replenishes the calcium that your body uses, and it keeps your bones strong.
Here’s how much calcium you need each day to maintain good bone health according to the Food and Nutrition and the Institute of Medicine of the National Academies.
- 0-6 months: 200 mg
- 7-12 months: 160 mg
- 1-3 years: 700mg
- 4-8 years: 1,000 mg
- 9-18 years: 1,300 mg
- 19-50 years: 1,300 mg
- 51-70 years: 1,000 mg (men), 1,200 mg (women)
- 71+ years: 1,200 mg
Women between the ages of 51 and 70 need slightly more calcium than men of the same age.
Regularly consuming less calcium than the recommended amount can result in bone loss and increase your risk for osteoporosis.
Who should get a bone density test?
You can’t see weak and brittle bones in the mirror. People with osteoporosis often do not get diagnosed with the condition until after they suffer a bone fracture. Getting a bone density test lets you know your risk for breaking a bone.
Bone density tests determine the density, or solidness, of your bones. This test is used to diagnose osteoporosis, fracture risk, and conditions that affect the bones in your body.
The United States Preventative Services Task Force recommends all women over 65 years of age receive bone density testing. The USPSTF has no recommendation for men.
If you have a family history of osteoporosis, you’ve lost height as you’ve aged, you have been diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis, or you had a recent bone fracture, talk to your doctor about a bone density test.
It’s possible to get enough calcium in your diet without consuming dairy. Many who choose not to eat dairy, or other foods, are mindful about getting the nutrients they need. However, consider talking to your primary care physician if your diet does not include dairy or other food groups.
MANA Imaging offers bone density tests in Northwest Arkansas. Talk to your primary care physician about bone health, and see if a bone density test is right for you.