Let’s talk about … sources of calcium (other than milk)

Calcium is important but milk isn’t the best source. Calcium is key for healthy bones, getting enough calcium from childhood through adulthood helps build bounes up and then helps slow the loss of bone as we age.

To protect your bones you do need calcium in your diet, but you also need to keep calcium in your bones.

Get calcium from greens, beans, or fortified foods. The most healthful calcium sources are green leafy vegetables and legumes, or “greens and beans” for short. Broccoli, Brussels sprouts, collards, kale, mustard greens, Swiss chard, and other greens are loaded with highly absorbable calcium and a host of other healthful nutrients. The exception is spinach, which contains a large amount of calcium but tends to hold onto it very tenaciously, so that you will absorb less of it.

If you are looking for a very concentrated calcium source, calcium-fortified orange or apple juices contain 300 milligrams or more of calcium per cup in a highly absorbable form. Many people prefer calcium supplements, which are now widely available. Exercise is important for many reasons, including keeping bones strong. Active people tend to keep calcium in their bones, while sedentary people lose calcium.

 

It’s not enough to get calcium into your bones. What is really important is keeping it there.

Reduce calcium losses by avoiding excess salt. Calcium in bones tends to dissolve into the bloodstream, then pass through the kidneys into the urine. Sodium (salt) in the foods you eat can greatly increase calcium loss through the kidneys.If you reduce your sodium intake to one to two grams per day, you will hold onto calcium better. To do that, avoid salty snack foods and canned goods with added sodium, and keep salt use low on the stove and at the table.

Try to get your protein from plants, not animal products. Animal protein—in fish, poultry, red meat, eggs, and dairy products—tends to leach calcium from the bones and encourages its passage into the urine. Plant protein—in beans, grains, and vegetables—does not appear to have this effect.