All the calcium, none of the dairy

retrochick.JPGIvy says:

 It is extremely important to get enough calcium in your diet. Unless, of course, you like the “Hunchback of Notre Dame” look. In that case, skip the calcium altogether. Calcium is more readily absorbed when it is eaten in a food, but some foods are more readily absorbed than others. For example, kale is more readily absorbed than milk.

It is also important to be getting enough vitamin D, which aids in dairy absorption. The easiest source of vitamin D is right outside your front door- the sun. (Unless, of course, it’s overcast or nighttime.) Sunblock also blocks the vitamin D, so make sure you spend at least a little bit of time in the sun unprotected. Half an hour a day is enough.

I have read that a diet that is overly high in protein also keeps calcium from being readily absorbed into your system, so watch your protein intake. Same with high phosphorous foods like soda.

But what if you are lactose intolerant or a vegan, or just plain don’t like to eat dairy items? Fortunately there are plenty of non-dairy, high calcium foods. Here are several:

Carrot juice
Seame butter/tahini
Soy of all sorts, including tofu
Turnip greens
Bok Choy
Navy beans
Pinto beans
Calcium fortified orange juice
Raw oysters
Calcium fortified cereals

Of course, if none of these options appeal to you, there’s always calcium supplements. Viactiv makes a particularly tasty supplement!


  1. Badbadivy on September 27, 2007 at 7:07 pm

    Alisa, that’s a great link! Thanks for posting it!

  2. Alisa on September 27, 2007 at 6:41 pm

    Tapioca huh? Interesting. Here are some more dairy-free and vegan ideas for getting calcium –

  3. Jasi on September 21, 2007 at 7:24 pm

    Nifty. Good to know as I have a toddler with serious dairy allergies.

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  5. Annie Jones on September 21, 2007 at 11:53 am

    I’m on the borderline between osteopenia and osteoporosis (1 point over the line, in fact).

    I try to get most of my calcium from foods: Calcium enriched orange juice, dairy products, leafy greens, grits (the kind I buy is high in calcium, but I don’t know if all brands are), and yummy coffee drinks I make with evaporated milk, which has twice the calcium in the same volume of regular liquid milk. I also add instant dry milk to any recipe that I can, from baked goods to soups.

    On days I think maybe I didn’t get enough calcium, I eat a calcium chew such as Viactiv or ActiveCal. They do contain dairy, but they don’t upset my stomach the way some calcium pills do.

    I also take a Vitamin D supplement.

  6. Gayle on September 21, 2007 at 9:39 am

    Great post! I am so excited you wrote about this. My doctor told me a short time ago that I have osteopenia (less dense bones than I should have for someone my age). I am lactose intolerant, and also have a terrible, terrible time swallowing pills – I choke!

    Now I am so excited to know that I can eat yummy foods instead of choking down horse pills in order to get my recommended calcium.


  7. Heather on September 20, 2007 at 9:11 pm

    Not only that, JanetLee, but a magnesium deficiency can trigger migraines. How fun!

  8. JanetLee on September 20, 2007 at 7:45 pm

    Don’t forget your magnesium also – it is vital in aiding your body to “uptake” the calcium you ingest.

  9. Margo on September 20, 2007 at 6:58 pm

    Cutting out the middle cow?! I love it! Also, I’m glad I love lots of things on that list because osteoporosis runs in my family. We’ve been cutting back on soy, though, because of its high estrogen levels which could lead to early puberty in girls and breast cancer in women.

  10. Lesley on September 20, 2007 at 6:34 pm

    Great post and so true! You’d think from all the advertising we’ve seen for years that dairy products are the only source of calcium. But as cows know, dark, leafy greens like romaine lettuce and broccoli are excellent sources of calcium. I like to say that when I eat calcium from plant sources, I’m just cutting out the middle-cow.