What your mother told you is true! Calcium does help make strong bones but here’s the thing: you don’t need dairy to get it.
Calcium can be found in many products, and good plant sources include leafy green vegetables such as kale, collards, bok choi, broccoli and watercress, so incorporate these into your diet by adding them to pasta sauces, soups, stews and stir-fries.
You can also get good amounts of calcium from foods that have been fortified with it, including non-dairy milks, yogurts, and many breakfast cereals. Many types of tofu are made using calcium, which makes this plant protein a great option.
Beans also contain good amounts of calcium, and so do dried apricots, sesame seeds, tahini, almonds, Brazil nuts, dried figs and oranges. Even some breads are fortified with it.
To help us absorb all that lovely calcium, we also need a good supply of vitamin D, and we can make all that we need if we have regular exposure to the sun. Those who don’t spend a lot of time outside, who live in northern latitudes or who have darker skin, should keep an eye out for dairy-free margarines, breakfast cereals and breads that are fortified with it. A lack of vitamin D is surprisingly common across all diets, so supplements may be useful.
One more tip: weight-bearing exercise helps strengthen bones. So, in short, we need to eat our greens, get out in the sunshine and do some exercise. But then, we knew this was good advice all along, didn’t we?
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