Importance of Calcium and how to get enough of it without dairy

Did you know that 99% of calcium in your body is found in your bones and teeth (the rest is found in soft tissue and blood) and if you don’t replenish it you lose it? I don’t know about you but I don’t want to be hunchback and toothless! Calcium is the most abundant mineral found in our body and one of it’s critical roles is aiding in the growth, development, and maintenance of bones. Our bone density is the highest by the time we are between 20-25, after that bone density starts to decline, this is when it’s imperative to replenish our calcium stores to prevent conditions like osteoporosis, or bone loss.

Calcium plays a crucial role throughout our bodies internal networking system from providing the framework and structure for bones to maintaining adequate calcium in the blood to ensure we have proper muscle contraction and nerve function. There needs to be a good balance of calcium in both our bones and blood. If we don’t have enough calcium in our blood then it “steals” it from the bones which causes it to demineralize. If we do not have calcium in our bones, our bones will further start to lose density which puts us at risk for reduced bone mass which can lead to osteoporosis.

Since our bodies do not naturally create calcium it’s important we get it through our diet. Fortunately for us, many foods are fortified with calcium so it shouldn’t be too hard to replenish our stores. Calcium is most commonly found in dairy products such as milk but there are strong cases to suggest we should avoid dairy due to its inflammatory processes and the fact that nearly 75% of the world’s population can’t digest dairy.  As infants we produce a digestive enzyme called lactase which helps break down the lactose that is found in breast milk and cow’s milk. As adults most of us begin to lose the ability to break down lactose which is why you may hear people say they are lactose intolerant. This doesn’t mean they can never have dairy products its just that their bodies will have a difficult time breaking it down and will have symptoms such as nausea, diarrhea, and upset stomach unless they take a lactose supplement to help with the digestion of lactose.

In addition to most of the world being lactose intolerant, studies although conflicting, have shown dairy products themselves can be inflammatory on our bodies. Our bodies like to maintain a neutral pH balance and cow’s milk is pretty acidic which means when you consume it your body must compensate for the increased acidity to maintain the natural pH balance. It does this by pulling the alkaline ‘reserves” that it keeps on hand in the form of calcium, potassium, and magnesium that are stored in our bones which leaves you susceptible again to osteoporosis. Not to mention dairy products can be rich with antibiotics and hormones which some farmers inject into cows so they increase their milk production. Now that we know why calcium is so important and why you should avoid dairy based products here is a list of dairy alternatives so you can still meet your calcium needs.

  1. Canned Fish (Tuna, Sardines, Salmon)

  2. Leafy Greens (Kale, Spinach, Bok Choy, Collard Greens)

  3. Fortified Foods (Orange Juice, Cereal)

  4. Milk Alternatives (Almond Milk, Rice Milk, Oat Milk)

  5. Dried Figs

  6. Broccoli

  7. Tempeh

  8. Tofu

  9. Chia Seeds

  10. Beans

In addition to getting your calcium through foods you can also take supplements to meet your dietary needs. Vitamin D should be taken with Calcium for maximum absorption which is why our Salaam Nutritionals Calcium is fortified with Vitamin D. Our new halal fruit based gummy is designed for growing children with 500mg of Calcium. Adults can take it too, just take an extra dose! We know how important calcium is for children and adults which is why are increasing our product line to bring you only the important halal vitamins you need for healthy growing and aging.