Getting enough calcium in your diet is essential for good health no matter what stage of life you’re at.
It helps keep your bones and teeth healthy and it’s also important for nerve and muscle activity in your body. Growing kids and teenagers need calcium for growth and older people, especially women, need it to prevent osteoporosis. It’s also important if you’re pregnant or breastfeeding.
Low-fat milk and other dairy products such as cheese and yoghurt are great sources of calcium. But what if you’re vegan or can’t have dairy products for dietary or allergy reasons?
The good news is there are lots of delicious, non-dairy foods out there that are rich in calcium. Two to three servings of calcium-rich food a day can help you meet your calcium requirements.
Dark, leafy, green vegetables
Eating these is good for your general health but dark, leafy greens such as kale, spinach, cabbage, broccoli and bok choy are also high in calcium.
Nuts and seeds
Out of all the nuts, almonds are up there with the highest amount of calcium. They are also a good source of magnesium and vitamin E. Seeds such as poppy, chia, hemp and sesame are high in calcium and easy to sprinkle onto breakfast food and into smoothies.
Canned salmon and sardines
These are a great source of calcium due to their soft, edible bones. Oily fish are also a great source of omega 3 fatty acids, which are great for your brain, heart and skin.
These are high in fibre and have more calcium than other dried fruits. Take care not to eat too much dried fruit as it’s high in sugar.
Soy, almond and rice milk
These are an increasingly popular alternative to cow’s milk. You can buy them calcium-fortified to ensure you are getting a good amount of calcium.
Tofu is made from soybeans and is high in calcium. You can also buy tofu that has been fortified with calcium, so has even higher levels. Edamame is also high in calcium.
Beans and lentils
Not only are beans and lentils super good for you, they’re also a good source of calcium. Winged beans (a tropical legume native to New Guinea) provide the most calcium, followed closely by white beans.
Some cereals, oats, breads and other food have calcium added. Check the label to see if they do, as this can help boost your calcium levels.
Remember, a balanced, healthy diet will help ensure you’re getting all the nutrients you need. If you’re concerned about whether you’re getting enough calcium, please consult your GP or healthcare provider.