Most people know that milk and other dairy products are a great source of calcium. But if you're restricted from dairy, there are nondairy options for calcium intake in your diet. And some of them might surprise you.
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To keep your bones strong and prevent osteoporosis, your body needs a certain amount of calcium — in general between 1,000 and 1,200 milligrams a day.
"So a glass of milk ... has about 300 milligrams," says Dr. Bart Clarke, a Mayo Clinic endocrinologist. "So two glasses of milk, a cup serving of yogurt would give you almost 1,000 milligrams right there."
But what if eating or drinking dairy isn't an option?
"If you can't take dairy products because of lactose intolerance or you have other dietary preferences that limit that, not to worry because there are so many other foods out there that have calcium," says Dr. Clarke, who is medical editor of Mayo Clinic Guide to Preventing & Treating Osteoporosis.
Common alternatives to milk are almond milk and soy milk, particularly the kind that is calcium-fortified. Certain vegetables are higher in calcium, including rhubarb, spinach, black-eyed peas, okra and broccoli. Other options include tofu, hummus, sunflower seeds, calcium-fortified orange juice, shrimp, and canned sardines and salmon.
"So there's a variety of ways you can get through dietary sources — foods that you like but at the same time give you calcium," says Dr. Clarke.