Calcium is the most abundant mineral in the body, with 99 percent of the body’s calcium located in the bones and teeth, and 1 percent in the body’s fluids. “Calcium is also important for muscle contraction, nerve function, blood clotting, preventing osteoporosis and more. While milk and milk products are known as the main source of calcium, not everyone can tolerate dairy,” says Lauren Woznick, RD, LD. “But there are many other ways to add it to your daily diet.”
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If dairy is not your thing, you can also find calcium in tofu, bok choy, kale, broccoli, collard greens, beans, and canned sardines or salmon with bones included. Many foods are also fortified with calcium, states Woznick. “There are many options for those who choose a plant-based diet.”
Woznick advises checking the labels to ensure the product has the amount of calcium that you want. For those sensitive to lactose or casein protein, there are lactose-free choices available, as well as milk that has certain types of casein protein. Woznick says most cow’s milk contains a mixture of A1 and A2 beta casein protein, but certain breeds of cows provide milk with only the A2 variant. There are also yogurt and frozen dairy products made with coconut milk, almond milk and other dairy substitutes.
While obtaining too much calcium from food is rare, excessive intake is mainly from supplements, states Woznick. She cautions that too much calcium intake can lead to constipation and the formation of kidney stones, so if you are taking a supplement, keep the dose in mind along with your current diet.
How much daily calcium you require depends on your age. The National Institutes of Health provides Recommended Dietary Allowances for calcium (below).
Check with your healthcare provider before taking any supplements