Let’s uncover the truth behind some common myths about dariy foods and calcium…
Dairy foods are the only way to get calcium in my diet
While dairy products are a good source of calcium they are not the only ones. Calcium is also found in canned fish with bones (such as salmon and sardines), hard tofu, almonds, dried figs, unhulled tahini (sesame seed paste) and some leafy green vegetables, particularly kale, collard greens and Asian leafy greens such as Chinese broccoli (Gai Lan) and bok choy. There are also a number of non-dairy milks fortified with calcium.
If I don’t eat dairy foods I need to take a calcium supplement
If you don’t eat dairy products, a calcium supplement may not be the only way to keep your bones strong. As discussed above, there are a range of other calcium-containing foods and as long as you eat enough of these you don’t need to rely on a supplement.
Any non-dairy milks are a good way to get calcium if I don’t drink milk
There are now a range of non-dairy milks available, including soy, almond, oat, rice and coconut milks. These don’t naturally contain much calcium but many have added calcium so check the labels and choose one with at least 120 mg/100 ml.
While other foods contain calcium it’s not possible to eat enough of these to meet my calcium needs.
The recommended dietary intake for calcium is 1000 mg for men and women aged 19 – 50 years but increases as we age. You could achieve this by having a small can of salmon on your sandwich (~250 mg), a snack of 5 dried figs (~150 mg) and 40 g almonds (~100 mg), a stir-fry including 150 g hard tofu (~115-250 mg) and 1 cup of Bok choy (~130 mg) and a cup of calcium-fortified soy milk (~300 mg).
For more information about dairy foods and calcium speak to your GP or a qualified dietician.