The most abundant mineral in our body – calcium is making up 1 to 2 % of a healthy adult’s body weight. Around 99 % of the calcium in our body is stored in bones and teeth. In case you are not consuming sufficient calcium through diet, your body will extract the calcium it needs from bone tissue, thereby accelerating bone loss. No one wants that!
Daily requirements are dependent upon age. The recommended daily allowance (RDA) for adults age 19-50 is 1000 mg. That number increases to 1200 mg for women beginning at age 51 and for men beginning at age 71. Contrary to popular belief, you do not need dairy milk to obtain calcium. Check out these dairy-free foods that are packed with calcium.
1. Chia Seeds
Two tablespoons of chia seeds contain 177 mg. Chia seeds are also the richest plant-based source of omega-3 fatty acids, ounce for ounce containing more than salmon. They also contain magnesium and boron, trace minerals that aid in the body’s absorption of calcium. They’re easy to use for breakfast, dessert or a quick snack.
Greens, particularly cooked collard greens, turnip greens, and kale are a great source of calcium. A one-cup serving of cooked kale provides almost 10 percent of the RDA. It’s so easy to add greens to our diet.
3. Hemp Milk
Hemp milk is a great alternative to dairy milk, particularly for those who may also be allergic to nuts or soy. A one cup serving of fortified hemp milk provides 428 mg of calcium, the same as dairy milk. It contains all 10 essential amino acids, making it a complete protein source. Hemp milk also contains Omega-3’s, iron, and potassium, as well as Vitamins A, D, E, and B-12. It is eco-friendly because it requires little water and no pesticides to grow. Hemp milk’s nutty flavor is great when enjoyed on its own, in smoothies or added to your morning coffee.
4. Blackstrap Molasses
Blackstrap molasses is a highly nutritious sweetener that is created as a byproduct of refining raw sugar cane into fine table sugar. It is also a great source of copper, manganese, potassium, and magnesium. Magnesium is particularly important, as it balances calcium and helps to regulate nerves and muscles.
5. Sesame Seeds/Tahini
A quarter-cup of sesame seeds contains 351 mg, or 35.1 percent of the RDA. They are also a fantastic source of manganese and copper, as well as several other vitamins and minerals. Sprinkle the seeds on top of salads, add them to baked goods or use in stir fries. Sesame seed paste, or tahini, can be used in hummus, or salad dressings.
6. Almond Butter
Almond butter is great on just about anything. It makes oatmeal more filling, it is a healthy snack when you spread it over banana slices or celery stalks, and you can use it in desserts and savory sauces. Just two tablespoons of almond butter contains 111 mg of calcium. It is also a great source of magnesium, copper, zinc, and iron
Soybeans, white beans, navy beans, and pinto beans, in particular, are all good sources of calcium. White beans, which have 191 mg of calcium per cup, lend themselves really well to soups and veggie burgers.
8. Vegetables – Fennel, Broccoli, Artichoke
You may be surprised to find out that fennel, broccoli, and artichokes made the list of foods packed with calcium. One tablespoon of fennel seed contains 59 mg of calcium. Fennel is a fantastic way to liven up a boring salad. One broccoli stalk, raw, contains 71 mg, while one cooked artichoke contains 54 mg of calcium. Get creative!
9. Fruit — Blackberries, Blackcurrants, Oranges, and Figs
Blackcurrants are hard to find in the U.S., but are worth mentioning as 1 cup of the fruit contains 62 mg. They are also an excellent source of vitamin A, vitamin C, and iron. Figs contain the highest amount of calcium per cup at 120 mg per half cup. California figs are in season June through September. Nothing can beat the taste of fresh figs, but dried figs are also nutritious. Oranges are next in line with 50-60 mg per orange. They are also great sources of vitamin C and potassium. Last but not least are blackberries – one cup of them contains 40 mg. The possibilities are endless with blackberries!
Amaranth, like quinoa, is actually a seed rather than a grain, though they are cooked like them. It is rich in calcium, iron and magnesium. Amaranth contains nearly four times as much calcium as wheat, at 116 mg per cooked cup. It’s a great option for people who are gluten-free.