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Ask the experts: Sources of calcium

Q. “I can’t stand the smell or the thought of drinking or eating dairy products. I do eat edam cheese but obviously that’s not enough. Which other ways can I get calcium? I am 44 years old.”

Karen

A. HFG nutritionist Claire Turnbull responds:

As an adult female, your need for calcium is around 1000mg per day. When you reach your 50s, your daily need increases to 1300mg. Canned fish such as salmon and sardines, eaten with the bones, have a good amount of calcium (if you mash them well you never really notice the bones). Tofu also has calcium, as do green vegetables, nuts and dried figs. Without dairy products, however, it can be tricky to get your daily 1000mg given the limited numbers of foods with significant amounts of calcium per serve.

As well as trying to include dairy alternatives, it may be worth seeing if you could manage a low-fat, calcium-enriched soy milk when it is made into a delicious smoothie with banana and berries. Or try making your own custard (without too much sugar) as another way to use milk or a milk-alternative without you‘ feeling’ like you are having milk. If this isn’t possible and you feel you are unable to get the calcium you need through your diet, head to your GP: you may need a scan to check the density of your bones and from there you may be recommended to take a supplement if necessary.

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Calcium content of foods

Food Serving size Calcium (mg)
Canned salmon with bones 100g 250mg
Canned sardines with bones 100g 550mg
Tofu 150g 160mg
Broccoli (cooked) 1 cup 60mg
Almonds 1/4 cup 90mg
Dried figs 4 figs 130mg
Trim milk 1 cup 380mg
Calci-trim milk 1 cup 520mg
Lite soy milk 1 cup 310mg
Edam cheese 40g 310mg

 



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