Although the dairy council would like you to believe that milk is the end-all-be-all for calcium, there are plenty of ways to get calcium without dairy. In fact, there are many foods, both natural and fortified, which are abundant in calcium.
How to Get Dairy-Free Calcium
Grab a glass of calcium fortified OJ in the morning, snack on a handful of figs, spike your lunchtime salad with kale, grab an energy bar or make a smoothie to keep you going mid-day, and have a cup of steamed broccoli and a side of whole grains with dinner. You just ate around 1000mg of calcium! That’s the USDA’s recommended daily intake for most individuals. It really can be that easy.
Check out my All About Milk and Calcium section on this site. It includes a Non-Dairy Calcium Chart with an extensive list of calcium-rich foods. And for preparation ideas, see my post on the ways to Enjoy Calcium-Rich Foods. This massive round-up contains dozens of delicious dairy-free recipes.
If you are still concerned, then reach for a calcium supplement. There is no shortage of brands on the market. But I do suggest that you read my section on Calcium Supplements before braving the jam-packed vitamin aisle. Also, here are a couple of brands that I recommend for calcium supplements.
Is Dairy the Best Source of Calcium?
Calcium is an essential mineral. I can’t argue that. However, nations with the highest intake of calcium from dairy products in particular (US, Sweden, etc.) are also among the nations with the highest rates of osteoporosis. Those countries where the people consume little to no milk products, like Japan and China, have a much lower incidence of osteoporosis.
And there has been additional research to support this observation. A landmark Harvard study of nearly 80,000 nurses showed that women who consumed their calcium from dairy products had a higher rate of osteoporosis than women who consumed their calcium from non-dairy sources.
Read Go Dairy Free: The Guide and Cookbook for more information on the scientific findings. It also includes tips for building strong dairy-free bones.