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11 Dairy-Free Calcium Sources

No Dairy? No Problem!


  • Thank you for this informative article. I like that you mentioned that calcium in young people is important because that's when they are laying down the foundation in their bones. It is particularly concerning for young women who drink a lot of soda because the body mobilizes calcium from the bones to buffer the acidity. This can lead to osteoporosis later in life. - 12/29/2009 11:15:03 PM
    Good article, I am not lactose intolerant but I do have a problem with eggs. I noticed that they mention soy. If your avoiding foods high in estrogen and pesticides I would personally stay away from that. Soybeans, and soy products are the highest estrogenic food source and pesticides. - 12/22/2009 4:57:34 PM
  • Oh and I should add this for those who wonder: If you drink straight milk that is pasteurized and homogenized and comes from an industrial CAFO source (look up CAFO on Google--you'll learn more than you wanted to), that alone is enough to set off reactions in some people, like the woman here who has problems because of the antibiotics. Both pasteurization and homogenization mess with the proteins and fat molecules in the milk and make them less digestible. If on the other hand you choose fermented milk foods, even if they've come from pasteurized milk, the proteins and fats will already have been broken down for you, the lactose will be almost or completely gone, and the food will be a lot easier on your tummy.

    Barring that, just sticking with things like aged cheeses helps a lot. Lactose is a milk sugar in the whey (liquid) portion of the milk. The cheesemaking process removes that liquid portion and most of the lactose in it; the cultures involved in cheesemaking eat up the rest of the lactose so that there's barely any left. The better-aged the cheese, the easier it will likely be on your stomach.

    If you still can't eat aged cheese and well-fermented yogurt your problem may be a casein (milk protein) allergy as opposed to lactose intolerance. A simple allergy test would tell you, if your insurance will pay for it.

    My personal favorites are kefir and Greek yogurt. You can actually make kefir at home if you can find someone to give you some of their kefir grains (which are actually a symbiotic colony of bacteria and yeast). It's sour and slightly fizzy from the fermentation process, but if you like plain yogurt already, this stuff is tasty too. - 7/30/2009 11:41:12 PM
  • I kind of hoped nobody would start in with the "nobody evolved to eat dairy" line, because by that logic we shouldn't be eating grains either, and most people don't want to go there. I could also say what we *have* evolved to eat, but I would hate for anyone to lose their appetite, considering we have evolved from insectivores and scavengers. Let's just leave that line of thinking alone, OK? Thanks.

    I was going to say there are a few other calcium sources left out and they might be really good too because of where the calcium comes from; I don't have labels in front of me so I can't say for sure.

    The first and easiest one is canned fish. Not tuna, because bones aren't included (although it may have some calcium anyway), but the smaller fish like anchovies that are in the little flat cans. Those fish are small enough to eat whole, including the bones. It sounds gross to some (including me), but if you can get over your disgust long enough to try it, it's worthwhile. Especially if you can't drink or eat most of what's on the list in the article because it would send your blood sugar skyrocketing and you want nothing to do with soymilk (which has to have the calcium added anyway).

    They aren't canned, but around here we can get tiny dried fish from a Japanese grocery store, and my little girl loves to snack on them. I have no idea why, but I am not going to discourage her because there's a lot more good stuff in them than just the bones.

    The other possibility is bone broth. This might actually be more appetizing to more people, it just takes longer to do. I won't take up a lot of space leaving instructions here, but a simple Google search will lead you to recipes and instructions. You're literally boiling all the good stuff out of the bones and cartilage of whatever meat animals you already eat, and turning it into a soup base. This stuff is WAY better for you than the bouillon and fake broth stuff you buy pre-made in the grocery store. It's also more economical. Vegetarians can't do this, but someone with an MSG allergy might appreciate it. - 7/30/2009 11:36:23 PM
  • Excellent info for those of us who are lactose intolerant. My son has drunk sweet acidophilus milk since a small child as he is extremely lactose intolerant. Wonder if he gets enough calcium in that?
    Did you ever notice that one often has a strong liking for the things he shouldn't have? We all love milk, cheese and ice cream and shouldn't have them because of the intolerance.

    - 6/25/2009 10:25:12 PM
  • Thanks for the list. In the last few years I have really cut back on eating dairy products. It's nice to know that I've been getting calcium anyway through eating Collard Greens, Oranges and Black Eyed Peas..I will now make sure that I eat them even more often. - 3/22/2009 9:24:11 AM
    OH! Also avoid eating calcium at the same time as caffeine and iron rich foods or supplements. They block the absorption. - 2/4/2009 12:57:43 PM
    I love blackstrap molasses. Try marinating chicken with molasses, fish sauce, garlic, lemon juice, sesame oil, and your favorite spicy chili. Leave it as long as you'd like, then grill it. YUM! - 2/4/2009 12:56:18 PM
  • I am not lactose intolerant, but I have a slight allergy to milk where it makes me cough a lot and I can't control it. The allergist said I have Cough Variant Asthma, which is not so much I wheeze, but I cough a lot. After going through weekly injections for 8 months and using meds and inhalers to control my symptoms, I'm finally able to enjoy some milk products in moderation. However, I've found I enjoy Silk Soymilk and other soy products. I do have to watch out for sugars in some of those products though. I am able to get my calcium that way. Thanks for the article!!! I did not know Black Eyed Peas were one and I grew up eating those all of the time!!! More non dairy ideas!!!!! - 1/5/2009 3:09:56 PM
  • Good article, thanks, uncanny timing for me because my doctor just told me this morning to start supplementing my calcium. I was not aware that higher protein in my diet would affect my calcium absorption.
    Also, a note to everyone that this is an issue for men, too. My father is lactose intolerant and has had many problems related to osteoporosis. - 1/5/2009 1:21:40 PM
  • Great article!! so very helpful. I actually have a little folder of articles that I can use as resources that SPARK PEOPLE has put out. I just LOVE SPARK PEOPLE!!! - 12/28/2008 11:31:06 PM
  • Keep these GREAT articles coming. I'm getting an education for FREE. - 8/23/2008 10:52:59 AM
  • I am printing out the servings listed here to help me out with extra calcium. I take Advair for my asthma and it can cause bone density issues apparently, so I really need to boost my calcium intake. I've had a deadly allergy to milk/milk bi-products (among other things) since I was born, and I can't even touch something that's been touched by something I'm allergic to because it's so bad. This has caused serious issues for me all my life, and now that I need to get a decent amount of calcium, this short list will help me out so I don't have to take a a bunch of supplements! Thank you! - 8/23/2008 1:53:28 AM
  • Thank you for this one. As mentioned in other comments, a lot of people have lactose intolerance, milk allergies, and/or moral issues about eating dairy products. I just want to add to the list that most, if not all non-organic dairy products contain at least trace amounts of antibiotics, which not only threaten the health of the ecosystem (by increasing the tolerance to antibiotics of several harmful bacteria), but also may cause allergic and hypersensitivity reactions of their own.

    It took me years to discover that my "milk allergy" is really an allergy to macrolides (a class of antibiotics), which occur in varying amounts in milk products because they are fed regularly to dairy cows as a part of their feed. Sub-therapeutic doses of antibiotics over a long period (such as my previous addiction to dairy products) can contribute to this kind of reaction, and almost cost me my life when I was given an antibiotic for pneumonia after having previously been sensitized via milk, cheese, etc.

    We don't need dairy products, nor did we evolve to consume them, and we especially should not be consuming antibiotic-laced dairy over a prolonged period. - 6/25/2008 3:16:55 PM

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