Dem bones, dem bones.......
So you think that only calcium from milk (and other dairy products or supplements) is good for bone-health? Think again. You'd be surprised at some other foods that are just as good for our bones and teeth. And others (like Vitamin D and K enriched foods) that are very necessary to ensure that the calcium from those foods is absorbed into our system, to maintain those healthy bones.
"Milk, it does a body good". Not so! Well at least, not for those of us who are lactose intolerant, or those who are Vegan, or believe that milk should only be consumed by babies and baby cows. So, these mighty tasty alternatives are good news.
SESAME SEEDS: Although it packs on more calories, an ounce (160 calories) of sesame seeds has the equivalent amount of calcium as a glass of skim milk. Sprinkle some on your cereal, or veggies, or whatever else you fancy.
FIGS: believe it or not, have more calcium than most other fruits - 6 figs supply 15% of the RDA for calcium. I'm not sure how many fig newtons you'd have to eat to gain any benefit, other than pounds, but you might check it out on the packaging.
BRUSSELS SPROUTS: (if you can stand them- personally, they make me gag!) The Vitamin K in Brussels Sprouts helps our bones retain the calcium necessary for bone health, so it is vitally important to make sure you get enough Vitamin K in your diet. It seems that early post-menopausal women don't get enough vitamin K, so just a half cup of these cooked, gag-inducing veggies provides more than the daily requirement. So go ahead and enjoy. I'll find other yummier Vitamin K rich foods like the following:
OTHER LEAFY GREENS: Spinach, Kale, broccoli, all have calcium, but in a form that is unavailable to the body. However, they are chock full of Vitamin K. Other veggies with high levels of Vitamin K are turnip greens, lettuce and cabbage. Now that's more like it. For a list of Vitamin K Rich foods and the amounts per 100 grams of food, click here.
FLAXSEED: a recent study published in Nutrition Journal claims that diets that are high in alpha-linolenic acid A.L.A. (an Omega-3 Fatty Acid which is found in ground flaxseed, soybean and other sources, though it is highest in flaxseed) may actually help slow down bone loss. And 1 tablespoon contains 1.6 grams of ALA (which constitutes more than your daily needs.)
PUMPKIN SEEDS: Magnesium is very important in helping the body metabolize calcium, and most nuts and seeds are a great source of magnesium. All you need is 2 ounces of pumpkin seeds, and you'll have consumed 302 mg of magnesium , the full RDA. You can put them in muffins, or sprinkle on salads and, voila!
TOFU: 1/2 cup provides 250 mg of calcium. The wonderful thing about tofu is that it is so versatile. Because it is essentially tasteless, it takes on the flavors of the spices etc. that it is cooked with. I make a fabulous tofu-carob mousse pie, and people have no clue it is made with tofu. It has probably been my most popular and most requested recipe.
SALMON: and other fatty fish like herring etc. are rich in Vitamin D (in addition to calcium), which is essential for many things including bone health. (I'll be doing a separate post on Vitamin D soon.) Women ingesting enough Vitamin D, plus calcium, have been found to have a 29% reduced risk of hip fracture. 1 ounce of herring contains 193 IU of Vitamin D, the recommended daily requirement, although there is some thought that people might need more. And, a 3 1/2 ounce serving of salmon provides 90% of the RDA.
So, there you go. Lots of interesting and different choices, for both carnivores, pescatarians, vegetarians and vegans, alike.
Oh, and don't forget exercise! It is very important, particularly lifting weights. Sigh.
NOTE: Careful about your caffeine consumption. Drinking too much will, in essence, leach the calcium out of your bones. Besides, there are is no nutritional value, whatsoever in caffeine.
The RDA for calcium is as follows:
0 to 6 months 210 mg
7 to 1 years 270
1 to 3 years 500
4 to 8 years 800
9 to 18 years 1300 mg
19 to 50 years 1000
51 plus years 1200
9 to 18 years 1300 mg
19 to 50 years 1000
over 51 years 1200
For a list of other vegetarian, calcium rich foods, click here.