Seniors, and especially menopausal women after the age of 50, women need extra calcium to overcome the risks of possible osteoporosis. But what do you do when you suffer from lactose intolerance, and dairy products are banned from your diet? How can you meet this nutrient necessity to maintain good bone and dental health when you do not consume milk? If you eliminate it from your diet, what alternative sources of calcium are available?
Calcium is found in several families of foods other than dairy products:
- oily fish
- spices and herbs
- nuts and seeds
- vegetables, especially green
- cereals enriched with minerals
- mineral waters
Before the age of 50, a woman's calcium needs are 900 mg/day, it is advisable for those who have passed this age (in the same way as for teenage girls) to have a dose of 1200 mg/day.
Natural sources of calcium
Calcium is not found only in milk. Here is our list of alternative calcium sources:
1. Herbs and spices
It's the herbs and spices that are the richest in calcium! If it is a little difficult to eat 100 g of thyme or cinnamon every day (we would get bored of the flavors soon), using them regularly in the kitchen, just like other spices and chervil.
2. The products of the sea
Sardines in oil are also very interesting food: in addition to their calcium content, they are rich in omega-3, the famous anti-oxidants that one finds very sparsely in food. Sardines also have the advantage of having vitamin D that helps to fix calcium. So, put some oil sardines on your plates at least once a week!
Algae and lithothamma are also good sources of calcium. Visit your local drug store and ask for supplements to contribute to the formation of connective tissues and joint comfort.
Nuts – especially almonds, hazelnuts – and dried figs are also interesting sources of calcium. But here too, it is difficult to eat 100 g per day (which represents 110 almonds!). These seeds and fruits are therefore a good daily snack to consume regularly at breakfast and throughout the day.
Eggs, and more specifically the yolk, are also a good source of calcium. For maximum calcium concentration, boil eggs that can be consumed easily, alternating with other methods of preparation.
The greenest vegetables rich in calcium are spinach, watercress and chard. Others also contain it, but in amounts below 60 mg/100 g. Pulses (legumes) are also sources of calcium, white beans in particular.
Unlike the foods mentioned above, it is very easy to eat more than 100 g to 200 g of vegetables per meal (a daily ration of vegetables and fruits ranges from 400 g to 600 g/day). All these vegetables also provide other minerals such as magnesium and potassium, two other allies of calcium, not to mention all vitamins and fiber. Include vegetables in the menu every day of the week for green vegetables, and at least two to three per week for legumes.
Average calcium/100 g for:
- green vegetables = 40 mg
- dried vegetables = 45 mg
Wholemeal bread provides 150 mg/100 g of calcium. With these other essential nutrients (vitamins, low glycemic index carbohydrates, minerals), it should be put on the table at every meal.
7. Dietary supplements
You can find several kinds of dietary supplements based on calcium in the pharmacy, health food stores or on the internet.
Choose a supplement enriched in vitamin D which promotes good digestive assimilation of calcium and phosphorus like Caltrate, which brings you 100% of the DRV (Dietary Reference Values) in one pill.
The advice of a dietician
It is not difficult to find sources of calcium outside of dairy products… provided you are very vigilant with the – good – choices of foods that contain them, and eat them as regularly as possible. It's a real food discipline to put in place to avoid deficiencies. But it is really worth it.
Do not hesitate to use herbs and spices in cooking! In addition to being high in calcium, they have other benefits: they delight the taste buds and allow less salt.
Also remember to ass sesame seeds in salads, and oil seeds for snacks. Small but sturdy! Plant milks are also good allies.