Beyond Milk: Dairy-Free Sources of Calcium
Monday, February 7, 2011
Kim in Health & Healing, Mindful Living, Nutrition & Diet, Recipe Roundups, Supplements & Vitamins, Tips & Tricks

Do you know that 2 cups of cooked kale has more calcium than a 1/2 cup of milk?

The government recommendation for adults ages 19-50 is 1000 mg of calcium per day. One cup of milk has 296 mg, but there are plenty of reasons you might not to drink milk, from personal preference to medical reasons.  If you avoid dairy due to intolerance or allergy, you may think that you don't have very many options to get adequate calcium. How wrong you are! A diverse diet of whole foods provides endless ways to get easily absorbable calcium, without having to take supplements.  

Maximizing Calcium Absorption

These suggestions are adapted from World's Healthiest Foods:

Chickpeas pack 105 mg of calcium per cooked cup

High Calcium Foods

By eating a varied diet of vegetables, fruits, spices, nuts, and fish, you can get ample calcium in your diet without dairy and without nutritional supplements.

Look at all those amazing ways to get calcium!

Other honorable mention for calcium dense foods are cauliflower, sweet potato, alfalfa sprouts, asparagus, eggplant, garlic, butter head lettuce, edible mushrooms, cloves, onion, peas, tomato, potato, gingerroot, oregano, parsley, rosemary, apples and apple juice, cranberries, cherries, pineapple, grapes, dried banana, blueberries, goji berries, and strawberries.

Cabbage is a great source of calcium that is easy to use in a variety of raw, cooked, and fermented recipes

Do the Math

Here is a sample of a dairy-free day that is rich in calcium.  By choosing the right combination of nourishing, high calcium foods, you will easily get over 1000 mg of calcium per day. 


Option 1: 1 cooked sweet potato (23 mg) + 2 Tbsp sesame tahini (126 mg) + 1 tsp ground cinnamon (25 mg) = approx 173 mg

Option 2: 1 cup cooked gluten-free oatmeal (19 mg) + 2 Tbsp ground flax seeds (52 mg) + 1/4 cup chopped apricots (35 mg) + 1 tsp ground cinnamon (25 mg) = approx 131 mg


 2 cups romaine lettuce (40 mg) + 1/2 cup thinly sliced fennel (22 mg) + 1/2 cup shredded carrot (30 mg) + 3 oz sardines with bones (325 mg) + lemon juice and olive oil =421 mg calcium


1/2 cup almonds (162 mg) + 1 cup carrot juice (54 mg) = 216 mg calcium

1 cup celery sticks (45 mg) + 1/4 cup chickpea hummus (approx 30 mg) = 75 mg calcium


1 cup navy beans (130 mg) stewed with oregano (25 mg) and garlic, 1 cup steamed broccoli (50 mg) with flax oil and 1 Tbsp ground flax seed (25 mg) + 1/4 cup sauerkraut (25 mg) + 1/2 cup roasted beets (22 mg) with thyme (25 mg) = 302 mg

Total: approximately 1140-1187 mg, depending on breakfast options

Pretty simple, right?

Green beans and sesame seeds have lots of calcium!

Calcium-Rich Recipes

Here are some recipe from my blog that are rich in calcium:

Update on Monday, February 7, 2011 by Registered CommenterKim


One of the reasons I love eating foods that are naturally high in calcium is that I can't take calcium supplements. The antibiotics I take for Lyme Disease treatment cannot be taken with concentrated sources of calcium or magnesium, as those minerals inhibit antibiotic absorption. Due to the frequency with which I take antibiotics through the day, I do not have time to fit in calcium or magnesium. So I opt to get my calcium intake from a wide variety of whole foods through the day, rather than in a a concentrated form.

If you choose to take a calcium supplement in addition to a varied diet, make sure you get calcium citrate - according to my naturopath, it is the most easily absorbable form of the mineral. 

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