Considering going dairy free but wondering where you'll get your calcium? You're not alone!
For years we have been advised that drinking our milk was the only available option for maintaining strong and healthy bones and teeth. The message was received loud and clear and we all obediently ate or drunk our daily dairy.
However, as we continue to expose our bodies to pesticides and anti-biotics, our digestive systems are weakening and the number of people with food intolerances are on the rise (a topic for another blog).
So if you are one of the unfortunate people (like me) who cannot enjoy dairy products without suffering negative symptoms or side effects, or if you are considering going vegan, you may be asking yourself.. "but where will I get my calcium?". Many people think the only solutions to our daily calcium requirements are dairy or a supplement.
The good news is that, even when you are dairy free, a calcium supplement is not needed in most cases. Even if you go vegan you'll still have strong and healthy bones, possibly even stronger than before due to a higher intake of alkalising foods.
All it really takes is to make a conscious effort to include many sources of calcium rich foods. Deriving your recommended daily intake from a variety of sources is best. For optimum absorption you should aim for 500-600mg at a time.
So just for fun, let's compare some calcium rich foods with a source we all know and love - greek yoghurt:
8 oz Greek yoghurt (full fat - which is always the highest in all nutrients by the way) 452mg
1 x 750ml bottle of Evian water - 600mg
2 x cups cooked Collard greens - 712mg
4 oz Sardines, in oil, drained - 433mg
1.5 cups of cooked spinach - 438mg
Note: 750ml of Evian also contains 195mg of magnesium - another essential mineral which I'll discuss in a later blog.
Still worried about your calcium intake?
Now just for fun lets look at "superfood" Kale - 2 cups of cooked kale is 360mg. Still great but not quite as good as
spinach or collard greens. So for those of you who don't like it or find it too expensive, give it a miss and go for its trusty old cousin Spinach. Popeye knew what he was doing guys!
So I've mentioned the healthy bones but what are some other benefits of calcium:
strong healthy bones and teeth - yeah yeah we knew this
involved in muscle contraction so essential for anyone who moves and obviously the more you move, the more you need.
However what gets me really excited about calcium is its calming effect on our sympathetic nervous system. In fact Calcium is known as an anxiolytic mineral, meaning it reduces anxiety and helps to switch off the stress response. This is one of the many reasons we often crave creamy treats when we're very stressed - we'd be much better off treating ourselves to a bottle of Evian.
So as you can see, there are many ways to get your daily calcium - with or without dairy products. If dairy leaves you feeling bloated, gassy, uncomfortable or fatigued then it may be irritating your digestive system. This will leave you unable to digest and absorb nutrients, not just from the dairy product itself but from any other meal or snack you eat until your digestive system is fully recovered.
So listen to your body, if it doesn't feel good it's probably not right for you. Switch to dairy free s
ources of calcium and enjoy the blissful calm, strong bones, healthy teeth and smooth muscle movement.
If you have any questions about this or any of our topics please leave a comment below. If you enjoyed this blog please share it with others.
Until next time, stay deliciously healthy.
Jennifer May Adv.Dip.Nutr.Med.ATMS.IFM.MINDD