Calcium: Life without Cow's Milk

When giving up milk

Calcium plays an important part in our diets, it is essential for the formation and maintenance of strong bones and teeth. 99% of calcium in our body is found in our teeth and skeleton with 1% found in the blood serum. Our bones are constantly being broken down and reformed and the calcium we take in helps prevent an excessive loss of calcium from our bones.

Calcium is also important in regulating muscle contraction and relaxation, including our heart. Calcium activates enzymes that are vital in a number of metabolic functions and calcium is vital in blood clotting.

Growth, pregnancy and lactation make extra demands on our supply of calcium and it is especially important that during this time calcium supplements are taken. If our bones are strong as children then the risk of osteoporosis in latter life can be prevented.

Where do we get calcium from?

The main source of calcium is milk and dairy products, but if you are allergic or intolerant to milk what then?

First of all how much calcium do we need? Various Recommended Daily Amounts (RDA) are listed the estimated figures from 1994 Dietary Reference Values are as follows

Age (and Sex)
Calcium in mg per day
0-12 months
1-3 years
4-6 years
7-10 years
11-14 years, male
11-14 years, female
15-18 years, male
15-18 years, female
19-50 years
50+ years

Figures from Manual of Nutrition, 10th Ed.

These figures are the ideal amounts, too little and young children will suffer from stunted growth and rickets. In adults, the lack of calcium may show as osteomalacia. The reason for these illnesses is the lack of Vitamin D so that too little calcium is absorbed. It is important when buying Calcium supplements to make sure that they contain Vitamin D to help the body absorb the calcium.

Other Sources of Calcium

As you cannot take milk or any dairy products as a source of Calcium what can you eat to replace the lack of calcium in your diet? Below is a small list of foods that contain a fair amount of calcium and if you can eat them are the best way to take Calcium naturally, remember to get exposure to the sun for your Vitamin D input.

Food Type
Eggs, Boiled
Stewed Beef Stewing steak
Baked cod fillet 22
Sardines - Canned in oil (Fish only) 550
Baked Beans 53
Boiled Courgettes 19
Boiled Cabbage 33
Boiled Okra 120
Fried Onions 47
Boiled Old Potatoes 5
Watercress 170
Apples 4
Sultanas 64
White Bread 110
Wholemeal Bread 54
Boiled White Rice 18

Any fish that is eaten with bones is a good source of calcium, for example salmon and sardines. White bread is also an important source as calcium is added as a supplement during production.

However, if the above sources don't inspire you or your family you can try the various Calcium supplements as I've already mentioned. However, it is important to remember that many calcium supplements are dairy derived, so it's best to look for supplements made from Calcium Carbonate (chalk), this can include indigestion tablets, for examples TUMS. But watch out in case they use lactose as a filler in the tablet.

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This page was last updated Saturday, 22-Nov-2014 11:37:45 EST