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Friday
Apr162010

5 Ways to Get Calcium Without Dairy

Do you prefer to avoid dairy products, either for health reasons or by personal choice? You aren't alone. The good news is there are plenty of non-dairy foods that provide calcium:

  1. Calcium-fortified beverages. Orange juice and soymilk are good choices. Read the labels to see how much calcium is in each serving, and how big the serving size is, as well as how much one serving contributes to your total daily percentage of calcium.  Look for products containing calcium citrate and malate, which may be better absorbed than tricalcium phosphate and calcium lactate. A six-oz serving of calcium-fortified orange juice usually provides about 20 to 25 percent of your daily value (DV); an eight-oz serving of soymilk contains anywhere from eight to 50 percent of your DV, depending on the brand.
  2. Cooked greens. Turnip greens, kale, and spinach are just a few examples of natural sources of calcium from the greens family. A half-cup of cooked spinach contains about 12 percent of your DV of calcium, one cup of cooked kale has nine percent, and a half-cup of boiled turnip greens offers 10 percent.
  3. Canned salmon with bones. The bones of this fish are softened in the canning process, making them edible - and an excellent source of calcium. You'll get a whopping 18 percent of your DV of calcium from three ounces of canned salmon (including bones). Choose canned salmon from sources in the wild (not farmed).
  4. Broccoli. When eaten raw, you'll get two percent of your DV of calcium from a half-cup of this versatile vegetable.
  5. Tofu. Read the package label to make sure calcium was used in its preparation. If so, a half-cup of firm tofu typically contains 20 percent of your DV, while the same amount of soft tofu provides 14 percent.

You may want to consider adding a balanced calcium-magnesium supplement to fill in any dietary gaps, as well (I recommend women take a supplement with 500-700 mg daily, for a total daily intake of 1,000-1,200 mg from all sources, while men should get no more than 500-600 mg daily from all sources, and probably do not need to supplement.)

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