Many people grew up with the "Got Milk" maxim and associate the consumption of dairy with strong bones. Dairy does contain a relatively high amount of calcium per serving, but there are many other food sources that are also high in this important mineral. No person diagnosed with lactose intolerance needs to suffer from inadequate calcium intake.
Calcium: Why's It So Important?
Most people know that calcium is essential for healthy bones and strong teeth, but few people know that this mineral also plays a pivotal role in nerve health, muscle function, and even blood pressure. Almost all of the calcium in our bodies is stored in our teeth and bones. When you don't consume enough calcium your body will take what it needs from your bones and teeth causing them to become brittle leading to conditions such as osteoporosis.
Knowledge is Power
Knowing how much calcium you need and how you can get an adequate supply of it is critical to those diagnosed with lactose intolerance.
How Much is Enough?
Adults need about 1000 mg of calcium per day. Although dairy is generally considered to be the best sources of calcium, fortunately there is a variety of non-dairy foods equally rich in calcium.
Where Can I Get It?
You might be surprised to know that in the top 11 foods high in calcium, seven are non-dairy. Below is a list of some non-dairy foods rich in calcium.
Leafy Greens and Tofu
Collard greens, broccoli rabe, and bok choy are excellent sources of calcium. Frozen collard greens have more calcium per serving than a glass of milk. Combine a cup of leafy greens with a cup of tofu to satisfy half your daily calcium requirements.
Three oz. of canned sardines with bones contains as much calcium as a glass of milk. If you don't like sardines, try canned shrimp or salmon with bones, but you'll have to double your intake of these foods.
Fortified almond, rice, and soy milk as well as fortified orange juice commonly contain as much calcium as a cup of milk. Keep an eye out for the fortified breakfast foods such as frozen waffles, oatmeal, and English muffins to start the day off with a calcium kick. Getting the calcium you need can be as simple as having fortified cereal with fortified soy, almond or rice milk and a cup of fortified orange juice for breakfast and then having some leafy greens and tofu for lunch or dinner.
Being lactose intolerant does not mean that you won't get the calcium that you need to stay healthy; it only requires that you pay attention and make sure that you regularly consume a combination of foods high in calcium.