Calcium Sources That Don't Require a Cow

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15 Calcium Sources That Don't Require a Cow

Happy dairy cows and calcium.
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Calcium is essential for healthy bones, but it does so much more. Calcium is required for normal muscle and nerve function and your blood to clot properly. A calcium deficiency is bad news because it can lead to osteoporosis or osteopenia. 

The Institute of Medicine recommends that adults get from 1,000 to 1,200 milligrams of calcium every day based on age. 

Milk and other dairy products are well known for their calcium content -- that's why they make up one whole food group -- the United States Department of Agriculture says adults should get three cups of dairy products in their diet every day.

But not everyone can consume dairy products or just choose not to eat or drink dairy products. Does avoiding dairy put you at risk for not getting enough calcium? Maybe, but not if you indulge in non-dairy foods that are naturally high in calcium or fortified with this vital nutrient. Flip through the slideshow to see 15 of my favorite calcium-rich, cow-free foods.

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Soy, Rice, and Nut Milk

Almond milk in glass, drinking straw, on wood
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Cow's milk alternatives are fortified with both calcium and vitamin D, so they provide a substantial amount of your daily calcium intake. These milk alternatives come in a variety of flavors including, plain, vanilla, and chocolate, plus there are similar 'coffee creamers' made with these products.

More About Milk Alternatives

Nutrition Information for Soy Milk

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Calcium-Fortified Orange Juice

Orange juice can be high in calcium if it's fortified.
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Orange juice is already an excellent source of vitamin C and potassium and adding calcium makes it even more beneficial. One 8-ounce serving of calcium-fortified orange juice can supply you with up to 35 percent of your daily calcium need. Make sure the label states the juice has added calcium (bonus points if it also has vitamin D).

Nutrition Information for Calcium-Fortified Orange Juice 

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Tofu

Tofu is a good source of calcium.
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Tofu is made from soy. It's often used in place of meat in stir fry or curry dishes. Tofu is an excellent source of calcium as long as it's prepared with calcium sulfate -- half a cup can provide half of your daily calcium requirement. Be sure to look at the label for tofu processed with calcium -- it's also an excellent source of protein and other essential minerals.

Nutrition Information for Tofu Prepared with Calcium Sulfate

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Kale

Kale is a good source of calcium.
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Kale is one of those superfoods that seems to be high in just about every nutrient you can think of except for vitamin B-12. A cup of raw kale is enough to satisfy ten percent of your daily calcium requirement. It's also low in calories -- about thirty or so. I think kale might be almost perfect.

Nutrition Information for Kale

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Bok Choi

Bok choy is a good source of calcium.
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All the dark green leafy vegetables are high in calcium and bok choi, (also known as Chinese Cabbage, or pak choi) is no exception. One cup of shredded cooked bok choi has about 150 milligrams of calcium - about 15 percent of your daily requirement.

Nutrition Information for Bok Choi

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Almonds

Almonds are high in calcium.
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Almonds make a healthy snack or a nutritious addition to a salad or side dish. One ounce of almonds (about 23 of them) has just under 100 milligrams of calcium. They're also rich in magnesium, manganese, and vitamin E, plus they contain plenty of healthy fats.

Nutrition Information for Almonds

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Broccoli

Broccoli is a good source of calcium.
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Broccoli is another terrific plant source of calcium. One cup of chopped broccoli will provide about five percent of your daily need, plus it's rich in most other vitamins and minerals, plus fiber and antioxidants. Worth a second helping.

Nutrition Information for Broccoli

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Collard Greens

Collard greens are high in calcium.
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Collard greens are very high in calcium. In fact, one cup of collard greens supplies bout one-fourth of your daily requirement. Collard greens are also high in several minerals, B vitamins, vitamin A and fiber.

Nutrition Information for Collard Greens

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Rhubarb

Rhubarb is high in calciun.
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Rhubarb is a tangy source of calcium. It's also high in vitamin C, potassium and fiber. It's probably too tart to eat without a bit of sugar, but one cup of rhubarb pieces has about 10 percent of your daily calcium need.

Nutrition Information for Rhubarb.

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Spinach

Steamed spinach is high in calcium.
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Spinach is loaded with nutrients including iron, calcium, vitamin C and fiber, and most other vitamins and minerals. One cup of cooked spinach has about 25 percent of your daily calcium requirement. Raw spinach is good too, but cooking the spinach really concentrates the nutrients.

Nutrition Information for Spinach

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Navy Beans

Beans on toast
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Navy beans are an excellent source of non-dairy calcium. One cup of cooked navy beans has 125 milligrams for close to 15 percent of your daily requirement. They're also high in fiber and manganese. 

Nutrition Information for Navy Beans

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Swiss Chard

Swiss chard is high in calcium.
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Swiss chard is high in calcium. One cup of Swiss chard will cover 10 percent of your daily calcium requirement. Chard is also high in fiber, vitamins A and C, and potassium and several minerals. It's also an excellent choice for dieting - that one cup of chard has only 35 calories.

Nutrition Information for Swiss Chard

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Stewed Tomatoes

Stewed tomatoes are high in calcium.
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Stewed tomatoes are an excellent source of calcium. Fresh tomatoes have some calcium as well, but the cooking process really concentrated the minerals and one cup supplies about 10 percent of your daily calcium requirement. They're also high in potassium and iron, plus they're rich in vitamins A and C.

Nutrition Information for Stewed Tomatoes

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Pinto Beans

Pinto beans are high in calcium.
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Legumes, in general, are good calcium sources, and one cup of pinto beans supplies you with about eight percent of your daily calcium requirement. They're also high in manganese and fiber, plus a little vitamin C. Black beans and kidney beans are also good sources - one cup of either bean has about five percent of a day's calcium need.

Nutrition Information for Pinto Beans

Source

United States Department of Agriculture Agricultural Research Service National Nutrient Database for Standard Reference. "Basic Report: 16043, Beans, pinto, mature seeds, cooked, boiled, without salt." http://ndb.nal.usda.gov/ndb/foods/show/4757.

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Brazil Nuts

Brazil nuts are high in calcium.
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Brazil nuts are best known as an important source of selenium, but they're also an excellent source of calcium. Six Brazil nuts have about 50 milligrams and supply about five percent of your daily need. They're also high in magnesium and healthy fats.

Nuts and Seeds Nutrition

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What Did I Just See?

Assorted flavoured tofus are high in calcium.
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In case you prefer a list -- here's a list of the non-dairy calcium sources featured:

  1. Soy, Rice and Nut Milk
  2. Calcium-Fortified Orange Juice
  3. Tofu
  4. Kale
  5. Bok Choi
  6. Almonds 
  7. Broccoli
  8. Collard Greens 
  9. Rhubarb
  10. Spinach
  11. Navy Beans
  12. Swiss Chard 
  13. Stewed Tomatoes
  14. Pinto Beans
  15. Brazil Nuts

Sources

Institute of Medicine of the National Academies. "Dietary Reference Intakes: The Essential Guide to Nutrient Requirements."

National Institutes of Health Office of Dietary Supplements. "Calcium Dietary Supplement Fact Sheet." http://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/Calcium-HealthProfessional/.

United States Department of Agriculture Agricultural Research Service National Nutrient Database for Standard Reference 28. https://ndb.nal.usda.gov/ndb/search/a>.

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