The average adult needs about 1,000mg of calcium per day. And that amount increases for women over the age of 50 and men over the age of 71.
“Calcium deficiency can, over time, lead to weak and brittle bones, which is called osteoporosis,” explained Dr. Donald Brown, primary care practitioner at Houston Methodist.
Dairy products are a great source of calcium — unless you’re lactose intolerant or a vegan.
The good news is that everyone can get a good source of calcium without consuming dairy or resorting to supplements. Nuts and beans are excellent sources of calcium, but there are some lesser known sources that offer additional benefits.
Here are a few items to add to your grocery list to boost your calcium intake:
Nuts are a great source of calcium, as well as protein, selenium, copper, magnesium and more. They’re also great for an appetite suppressant.
A cup of mixed nuts contains 157mg of calcium.
Beans are high in fiber, have many micronutrients, and are packed with protein, iron, zinc, calcium and more. Whether you choose pinto, navy or black beans, you’ll be getting plenty of nutrients.
Depending on the bean type, you’ll get anywhere from 15 to 80 grams of calcium per serving.
Raw seaweed contains 150mg of calcium per serving along with plenty of vitamin A, C, E and K. The ocean green packs a punch with antioxidants, folate zinc, sodium and magnesium too.
While seaweed is a versatile ingredient, it should be eaten in moderation, as its iodine levels can interfere with medications.
A 30g serving of figs contain about 30mg of calcium. Figs also promote digestive health, and are loaded with antioxidants. They’re a great food for supporting healthy blood pressure and weight management.
If you’re new to eating figs, enjoy them in moderation as large amounts can have laxative effects.
Blackstrap molasses is derived from sugar cane juice, which is boiled three times into a crystallized sugar. While it can be a little bitter, blackstrap molasses can help prevent anemia, relieve constipation in children, and promotes bone health.
A 1-tablespoon serving of blackstrap molasses has 41mg of calcium. Enjoy it as a topping on yogurt or oatmeal, or spread it on toast.
Plant- and nut-based milks are perfect not only for vegans, but for anyone on diet restrictions or with a fickle stomach. They’re dairy free and can reduce inflammation. The amount of calcium varies widely between type:
Whatever your calcium needs, Dr. Brown says meeting your requirements through diet “is usually still achievable. Just be sure you’re eating a few servings of calcium-rich foods every day.”
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Credit: Jason Getz / Jason.Getz@ajc.com