Bachelor of Science, The University of Melbourne
Master of Nutrition and Dietetics, The University of Sydney
Master of Science (Biotechnology), The University of Melbourne
Owner of Bloom Nutritionist
Getting enough calcium on a dairy-free diet
If you’ve made the decision to ditch dairy products (including milk, yoghurt and cheese), it’s incredibly important to make sure you’re proactive in including rich sources of calcium in your diet, as dairy products (as a group) usually make the greatest contribution to calcium intake in the Australian diet.
Why do we need calcium?
Calcium has a number of important roles in the body, including maintaining the normal functioning of the heart, muscles, blood, and nerves, but its most well known role is in maintaining the strength of the bones.
With almost 99% of the body’s calcium found in the bones, the skeleton acts a calcium bank, so if you’re not getting enough calcium from your diet to maintain normal levels in the blood, the body will drawn on its reserves in the bones, which can weaken the bones over time.
How much calcium do we need?
- For adult men (aged 19-70 years) and women (aged 19-50 years), the Recommended Dietary Intake (RDI) is 1000mg calcium per day
- For adolescents (girls and boys aged 12-18 years) and women aged over 51 years, the RDI is 1,300mg calcium per day
Dietary sources of calcium
While dairy products are a good source of calcium – just one cup of cow’s milk provides around a third of an adult’s daily requirement – fortunately there are many non-dairy calcium-rich foods, including:
Firm tofu, set with calcium salts: 450mg calcium per 150g tofu
Tofu is made by coagulating soy milk to make a curd, using a mineral salt as a coagulating agent. The mineral salts used are either a calcium or a magnesium salt, so if the manufacturer has used a calcium salt (either calcium chloride or calcium sulphate), the tofu will be a rich source of calcium. To check if a calcium salt has been used to make the tofu, check the ingredients list for the additives E509 or E516, or the words calcium chloride or calcium sulphate.
Tinned sardines or pink salmon (with soft, edible bones): 300mg per 90g tin
Asian greens, such as bok choy and pak choy: 150mg calcium per 1 cup cooked greens (150g)
Tempeh: 100mg calcium per 100g serve. Tempeh is a traditional Indonesian food product made from whole soy beans which is used as an alternative to meat. It has a strong savoury, nutty flavour, and is used in a similar way to tofu.
Kale: 100mg calcium per 1 cup cooked (150g)
Broccoli: 50mg calcium per 1 cup cooked broccoli (150g)
Legumes, such as chickpeas, red kidney beans or navy beans: 50mg calcium per 125g cooked beans (approximately 3/4 cup)
Dried figs: 50mg calcium per 1 dried fig
Dried apricots: 50mg calcium per 8 dried apricot halves
Oranges: 50mg per 1 large orange (200g)
Until next time …… Lucy.
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