How to get calcium and other nutrients outside of milk.

Cow’s milk is an excel­lent source of cal­ci­um which, along with vit­a­min D, is need­ed to build strong, dense bones.

Milk also con­tains pro­tein, the min­er­als phos­pho­rus, potas­si­um, zinc and iodine, as well as vit­a­mins A, B2 (riboflavin) and B12 (cobal­amin).

As a child, I drank a lot of milk. It was deliv­ered in pint bot­tles to our steps each morn­ing. I also drank a third of a pint before going to class as part of the free school milk scheme. I always like milk, which makes it eas­i­er to get enough calcium.

Of course, many peo­ple don’t drink milk for a num­ber of rea­sons. The good news is that you can get all the cal­ci­um and oth­er nutri­ents you need from oth­er foods.

Dairy prod­ucts like cheese and yogurt are rich in cal­ci­um, while non-dairy foods like tofu, canned fish with bones, green leafy veg­eta­bles, nuts and seeds con­tain vary­ing amounts.

Some foods are for­ti­fied with added cal­ci­um, includ­ing some break­fast cere­als and soy, rice, oat, and nut “milks.” Check the nutri­tion infor­ma­tion pan­els on food labels to see how much cal­ci­um they contain.

How­ev­er, it is much more dif­fi­cult for your body to absorb cal­ci­um from non-dairy foods. Although your body absorbs cal­ci­um best from plant foods, and also when your total cal­ci­um intake is low, the over­all effect means that if you don’t have dairy prod­ucts, you may need to eat more foods con­tain­ing cal­ci­um to max­i­mize your bone. health.

Depend­ing on your age and gen­der, dai­ly cal­ci­um require­ments range from 360 mil­ligrams per day to over 1,000 mg for teens and old­er women.

A 250ml cup of cow’s milk con­tains about 300mg of cal­ci­um, which is equiv­a­lent to a stan­dard serv­ing. This same amount is found in:

200 grams of yogurt
250 ml plant-based milks for­ti­fied with cal­ci­um
100 grams canned pink salmon with bones
100 grams of firm tofu
115 grams of almonds.

In Aus­tralia, the rec­om­mend­ed num­ber of dai­ly serv­ings of dairy and non-dairy alter­na­tives vary:

chil­dren should have between 1 and 3.5 serv­ings per day, depend­ing on their age and gender

women between the ages of 19 and 50 should have 2.5 serv­ings a day, then 4 serv­ings when they are over 50

men between the ages of 19 and 70 should have 2.5 serv­ings a day, then 3.5 serv­ings when they are over 70.

How­ev­er, the aver­age intake in Aus­tralia is only 1.5 serv­ings per day, and only one in ten meet the recommendations.

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