Although we need different calcium levels at different stages of life, the recommended daily allowance for adults is between 1,000-1,200 mgs. Through proper diet, it is possible to obtain adequate amounts and very difficult to over-consume. Through supplementation, however, over-consumption can lead to a number of problems, from constipation to more serious complications such as kidney toxicity, so it is important to always take it under the advice of a health professional.
For years, we've been told that we need to include more milk in our diet as it is considered a good source of calcium. Indeed, milk contains a reasonable amount of calcium, but it is by far not the only source. Not only can we get enough from other food sources, but these can even have additional benefits as they also contain other important vitamins and minerals. As it is estimated that over 50% of us may either be allergic or intolerant to dairy, being aware of non-dairy food sources of calcium and making a conscious effort to include them in our diet is imperative.
It's also important to keep in mind that for calcium to be absorbed properly through food, it needs some help from other vitamins and minerals. This is where, Vitamin D, Vitamin K1 + K2 and Magnesium come in - these all play an essential role in helping the body absorb and use calcium and they just happen to be very available in many non-dairy foods. So, if you don't eat dairy, don't worry, you're not destined to brittle bones. Just make sure to fill up on these fantastic 5 calcium-rich foods that don't contain any milk at all:
1. Fish with bones: Salmon and sardines with bones are great sources of calcium. As these are also a good source of Vitamin D, they will enhance calcium absorption.
2. Dark, leafy greens: Collard greens, Bok Choy, Kale and Broccoli all rank high as far as being good absorbable sources of calcium because you're also getting Vitamins A, C, E, K, B-Vitamins and folate as added bonuses. I can't emphasize enough how important it is to consume these daily.
3. Sesame Seeds: 100 grams of sesame seeds equals 975 mgs of calcium - this is almost the 1,000 mg daily requirement. Of course you can't possibly eat that much sesame seeds but you can surely sprinkle them everywhere that seems appropriate or try my delicious tahini sauce. The added bonus of these mighty seeds: Good amounts of magnesium and rich in good fats and fibre.
4. Almonds: From a nutritional standpoint, almonds are my favourite nuts! Other than being rich in calcium, they contain magnesium, potassium, phosphorus, iron and Vitamin E. They're also a great source of protein, fibre and good fats. Eat a few raw (and unsalted) almonds as a mid-day snack, use almond flour for baking, chop them and sprinkle on salads or veggies or spread almond butter on your favourite crackers.
5. White Beans (if tolerated): A great source of calcium, potassium and iron, white beans also offer a generous quantity of magnesium. Add them to pastas, soups, salads or make a white bean dip/spread.