Calcium is one of the most important minerals essential for many of our bodily functions. Mainly known for its role in supporting bone health, Calcium also helps in maintaining heart rhythm, muscle function and prevents osteoporosis.
We all have seen a variety of milk commercials since childhood projecting one of the most important benefits of milk - it is a readily available source of Calcium. Be it the famous magazine advertisements of the 90s with celebrities campaigning about the benefits of milk and the amount of calcium in it or be it a TV commercial showing glasses and cartons of milk and milk products.
For ages, milk, and milk products are marketed as the most common sources of calcium, thus people who are lactose intolerant or are vegan are at a high risk of a calcium deficiency. But milk isn’t the only source of calcium. For vegans and people with lactose intolerance, it is necessary that they keep their calcium intake in check by sourcing calcium from other calcium-rich products. Here is a list of some food items which one can have instead of milk, which are good and adequate sources of calcium:
It is well-known that leafy greens are rich sources of minerals such as magnesium and sodium, but they are also valuable sources of calcium.
Greens that are good sources of calcium include kale, broccoli, collard greens, turnips and spinach in small amounts. For instance, 100g of raw collard greens contains around 232 mg of calcium. Thus leafy greens can be one of the most important sources of calcium and should be included more and more in our diet.
Fruits are one of the best sources of calcium, along with other minerals and nutrients. Oranges and figs (especially dried figs) are excellent sources of calcium. About one cup of Orange juice (fortified with calcium) contains around 375 mg of calcium. Other fruits with moderate amounts of calcium include kiwis, dried apricots, and garden rhubarb. With fruits though be careful of the sugar intake!
Herbs are mostly well-known to work as antioxidants and anti-inflammatory agents in our body. Apart from its anti-inflammatory properties, many of the herbs are also sources of minerals and vitamins. One such herb which is a rich source of calcium is Sage - 100 mg of Sage contains about 1652 mg of calcium.
Similarly, other herbs like dill, fenugreek leaves, thyme, basil are also rich herbal sources of calcium. Cuisines across the world incorporate herbs in good amount in their diet. For instance, thyme is an integral part of Italian cuisine, similarly, fenugreek leaves are used in dry as well as the green leafy form for various Indian cuisines.
Along with being healthy sources of vitamin E, nuts and seeds are also adequate sources of calcium. Almonds are the highest source of calcium, followed by sesame seeds, chia seeds, and flax seeds.
Beans and lentils are known to provide a good
amount of fibers, proteins, and minerals to our body. Along with zinc, magnesium, and folate, some of their varieties also contain decent amounts of calcium. Among these, cooked winged beans have the highest amount of calcium, followed by white beans. One cup of cooked winged beans contains around 244 mg of calcium. Other beans such as pinto beans and kidney beans are also moderate sources of calcium.
Soybean and its products such as Tofu and Tempeh are known to provide a substantial amount of proteins.
Soybean products fortified with calcium can be one of the excellent sources of calcium for non-dairy
consumers. Around 4 oz of Tofu, fortified with calcium contains around 253 mg of calcium, similarly in 8 oz of soy milk, around 80-500 mg of calcium is present.
Calcium supplements are an additional, alternative way to get calcium for people who cannot or do not like to have milk and milk products.
Calcium being an important mineral and as it has significance in maintaining bone health, it is necessary for all of us to maintain and keep a check our calcium intake.