Monday, March 3, 2014

Meatless Monday: Alternative Sources of Dietary Calcium

Adequate supplies of calcium are essential to good bone health. The daily recommendation of calcium for an adult 19-50 is 1000 mg. For women over 50 and men over 70, the amount rises to 1200 mg/day. As Americans, we have been hot wired to think of dairy products when asked to name calcium-rich foods — for a very good reason. The recently reinvented Got Milk? campaign has been part of our lives for two decades.

If you don’t like milk, are lactose intolerant, or are a vegan, getting adequate supplies of this nutrient can be a challenge.

There are, however, a number of non-dairy options available. 

Fish eaters can get over 25% of their daily calcium requirement by eating 3 oz of canned sardines, with bones; the soft bones are the source of the calcium. [Trust me, you won’t even know you are eating them.] Canned shrimp and salmon have lower amounts of calcium, but are also good alternatives.

Green leafy vegetables are also rich in calcium, particularly kale, collard greens, and broccoli rabe. Nuts, especially almonds, are also good options, as are plant-based milks and tofu. [Note that some are better sources than others.]

The Harvard University Health Services has posted a helpful chart “Calcium Content of Common Foods in Common Portions.” You can read it here

For me, there were some surprises on the list — artichokes, figs, oranges, and blackstrap molasses, to name a few. 

This article from the Huffington Post has a slide show of 20 calcium-rich foods. The last slide is actually an entertaining video. 

For more on calcium and why it is so important to your health, read this fact sheet found on the National Institute of Health website. 

Have a great week. Stay warm. Eat well.

On Mondays I often blog on food, food issues, or gardening in support of Meatless Monday, one of several programs developed in the Healthy Monday project, founded in 2003 in association with Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health, Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health and Syracuse University’s Newhouse School of Communications. Meatless Monday’s goal is “to help reduce meat consumption 15% in order to improve personal health and the health of our planet.”

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