Finding Alternative Sources of Calcium - dummies

Finding Alternative Sources of Calcium

By Suzanne Havala Hobbs

Finding nondairy foods that contain plenty of calcium isn’t difficult. In fact, many nondairy foods have calcium, so make sure you eat them often. Remember that horses, elephants, cows, and giraffes get all the calcium they need to build their massive skeletons by eating nothing more than plants (after the species-specific milk they drink in infancy, of course).

The following lists the calcium content of some common nondairy sources of calcium. You don’t need to count the milligrams of calcium in your diet. However, you may find that a quick scan of this table helps you get a feel for how rich in calcium some foods are compared with others.

Calcium Found in Nondairy Foods
Food Calcium Content (milligrams)
1 medium artichoke, boiled 25
1 cup cooked lentils 38
1 tablespoon almond butter 43
1 flour or corn tortilla (6-inch) 45
2 slices whole-wheat bread 60
1 medium orange 61
1 cup cooked broccoli 62
1 cup canned garbanzo beans 77
1 tablespoon blackstrap molasses 82
1 cup canned kidney beans 87
1 cup cooked kale 94
1 ounce nondairy sour cream 100
1 cup canned pinto beans 103
1 cup cooked mustard greens 104
1/2 cup dried figs 121
1 cup canned navy beans 123
1 cup baked beans 126
2 tablespoons tahini 128
1 cup cooked bok choy 158
1 ounce soy mozzarella-style cheese 183
3 ounces salmon with bones 188
1 cup fortified almond milk 200
1 ounce fortified soy cheese 200
1 cup cooked turnip greens 209
1 cup cooked collard greens 266
1 6-ounce container soy yogurt (vanilla) 299
1 cup calcium-fortified orange juice 300
1 cup fortified rice milk 300
1 cup fortified soymilk 300
1/2 cup firm tofu (processed with calcium sulfate) 434

The good news: A lot of other plant foods contain plenty of calcium that’s well absorbed. In fact, some research suggests that the calcium in many plant foods is absorbed by your body better than the calcium in cow’s milk. Good examples of some of these calcium sources include broccoli, Chinese cabbage, and kale. So getting your calcium from these nondairy sources is a smart choice.

Even if you don’t drink milk or eat other dairy products, it’s not difficult to pack plenty of calcium into your meals. The following are healthful examples of calcium-rich meals, snacks, or dishes.

  • Whole-grain cereal with fortified soymilk and fresh berries

  • Falafel (garbanzo bean balls) in pita pockets with plain soy yogurt sauce and a glass of fortified orange juice

  • Bowl of navy bean soup with a fresh orange

  • Black bean soup with a dollop of nondairy sour cream on top

  • Stir-fried Chinese vegetables with pan-fried tofu over rice

  • Fig cookies with a glass of fortified rice milk

  • Black-eyed peas over rice with cooked collard greens

  • Bowl of bean chili with steamed broccoli and nondairy cornbread

  • Almond butter sandwich on whole-wheat toast