where do you get your calcium from?

If you are dairy free then the one question everyone asks you is “where you do you get your calcium from?” Right?

So we all know that calcium is really important for our bones and teeth and lots of other functions with the body. It’s been drummed into us from a young age that we must eat this or that because calcium is good for us, and it’s true, it is.

If we don’t get enough calcium from our diet, the blood level of calcium drops and our body begins to draw calcium out from our bones where it is stored. Which makes it really hard to do a blood test to see if you are getting enough calcium because the body will always seek to maintain that happy balance in the blood.

For most of us, the Recommended Dietary Intake (RDI) is about 1,000 milligrams (mg) of calcium per day and that’s everyday. We only absorb about a quarter of this and because of this the RDI is much higher than the level we actually need in order to ensure we get enough.

Calcium is abundant in dairy products but if you have a diary intolerance (lactose or you just have trouble digesting it) you need to be obtaining it from other sources.

If you want to obtain calcium from whole food sources (not supplements or fortified foods) then it’s a good idea to eat a wide range of foods (as the amount we can absorb from different foods varies), including oysters, bony tinned fish, bone broth/stock, almonds, walnuts, brazil nuts, sesame seeds, tofu and green leafy vegetables (but don’t rely on spinach or silverbeet for calcium intake as the calcium is poorly absorbed from these veg).

Here is a quick comparison of calcium intake in these foods with high levels of calcium and good absorption rates:

  • Cheddar cheese up to 556mg per 100g
  • Sardines tinned 367mg/100g
  • Tofu (firm) 320mg/100g
  • Pink tinned salmon (bones in) 275mg/100g
  • Almonds 250mg/100g
  • Red tinned salmon (bones in) 184mg/100g
  • Boy choy (stir fried) 123mg/100g
  • Milk 107mg/100ml

Some people love tinned bony fish, some people prefer tuna because the bones can be a little crunchy and off-putting, and if you are looking for ways to get more tinned bony fish into your daily eats, then check out my recipe for Salmon Patties.

So hopefully the next time someone asks you about your calcium intake, you can tell them all about it!