Many North American families rely on cow’s dairy as a source of calcium for maintaining healthy bones. So much so, that many parents have expressed concerns when their children don’t like milk or are sensitive to it.
They are therefore very surprised when I tell them that it’s no big deal that their kid doesn’t drink milk. “But what about calcium??” is the question that inevitably follows.
The truth is that cow dairy is far from being the only source of calcium in the diet.
In fact, if you take into account the way milk is mass-produced in large-scale dairy farms, often utilizing hormones and antibiotics in large quantities, conventional dairy products are not even the healthiest way to acquire calcium.
As a naturopath, we are always encountering people that are sensitive to cow dairy, and it can be the root of many conditions (eczema, irritable bowel syndrome, and migraines, to name a few).
A List Of Non Dairy Calcium Sources
To ease worries about adequate calcium, I arm patients with a list of good non-dairy sources of calcium. Foods in bold are especially rich in calcium. Try to mix and match a variety of different sources each day, to create complete intake.
- Collard greens
- Mustard greens
- Turnip greens
- Swiss chard
- Green beans
- Brussel sprouts
- Bok Choy
- Ocean perch
- Sesame seeds/ tahini / sesame butter
- Soy beans/ tofu/ fortified soy milk
- Fortified almond milk
- Fortified Rice milk
- Almonds, walnuts, hazelnuts
If you are not sensitive to dairy, goat and sheep dairy are a good alternative to cow’s milk, and if you are even ok with cow dairy, try to select organic brands which would not contain unwanted chemicals.
Greek yogurt contains live probiotic cultures and protein in addition to lots of calcium. It's a great choice. But be sure to read the ingredient label – the longer the list the more processed the yogurt is.
For more information check out Health Canada’s recommended daily intake of calcium.