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When Milk Doesn’t Do a Body Good: Calcium-Rich Alternatives for Strong Teeth and Bones

Calcium is an important mineral essential for the development and maintenance of strong teeth and bones. The FDA recommends getting between 1,000-1,200 mg of calcium every day depending on your age and activity level. In the past, cow’s milk was touted as the be-all and end-all way to get the calcium your body needed. But what do those with lactose intolerance, vegans, and people watching their weight do when dairy is no longer a possibility? Fortunately, there are many other (and sometimes healthier) choices out there.

Here are 6 non-dairy choices so you can keep your bones strong and healthy:

Beans- A favorite substitute for meat, beans are high in protein, fiber, and also pack an incredible calcium-rich punch.

Bone Broth- While this option is off the table for vegans, bone broth is an amazing and flavorful way to get calcium. Boiling and simmering chicken, lamb, beef, or fish bones over long periods of time allows the calcium and other minerals to dissolve into the water. Bone broth is also high in the amino acids proline and glycine which are important for skin health, the nervous system, digestion, and cellular turnover.

Calcium-Fortified Foods- Nowadays cereal, orange juice, soy milk, and energy bars come with added calcium. Be sure to check the label though, because these foods can also be highly processed and may contain added sugars and fats.

Seeds- Many seeds not only provide protein, fiber, and healthy fats, but seeds like chia, sesame, and poppy also pack a lot of calcium. Sprinkled on salads or blended in your morning smoothie, seeds are a great way to add calcium to your diet.

Canned Fish- Canned sardines and other fish are a great way to up your calcium intake, but be sure your canned fish includes the bones because that’s where most of the calcium lies. Anchovies’ salty, briny, nutty flavor can be a great-tasting addition to many recipes instead of adding more salt.

Kale- Kale and other dark leafy greens are not only high in calcium but so versatile you may never get bored with eating them. Kale, collards, and spinach, to name a few are also high in fiber to fill you up, without adding extra calories to your diet.

This short list just scratches the surface of amazing calcium-rich alternatives to dairy products. Even if you do eat cheese and enjoy the occasional glass of milk, the above choices are a great way to add variety and flavor to your diet while making sure your teeth and bones stay strong and healthy for life.