Calcium”we all know that it's important for keeping our bones strong, and that drinking milk is a good way to get it.

But what if you're lactose intolerant and milk products aren't an option? Or what if you just don't like the idea of drinking something that comes from a cow?

What is calcium? Why is getting enough calcium important?

Calcium is the most abundant mineral in the body, the National Institutes of Health reports.

A whopping 99% of the calcium in your body can be found in your bones and teeth. That's why people who don't get enough calcium face an increased risk of bone fractures.

Getting enough calcium is important for your health in a number of ways. For instance, the right amount of calcium can help:

  • Prevent osteoporosis, especially in postmenopausal women
  • Protect against colorectal cancer
  • Reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease
  • Lower the risk of having high blood pressure or hypertension
  • Manage body weight

Source: NIH

On the other hand, getting more than the recommended daily amount of calcium can be dangerous to your health, so it's important not to go overboard.

Some studies have suggested that there is an association between high calcium intake and developing prostate cancer, says the NIH. It may also increase your risk of kidney stones, as well as cause constipation.

How much calcium do you need?

That depends on your age and sex.

Source: NIH

Here's how much calcium is in a serving of some common dairy products:

Source: NIH

Fortunately, there are lots of non-dairy high calcium foods out there for you to choose from. Here are 10 of them that may surprise you.

What are some non-dairy calcium sources?

Some foods a naturally high in calcium.


  • One cup of raw spinach has 30 mg of calcium. (Source: USDA)


Sesame seeds

  • A single tablespoon of dried sesame seeds contains 88 mg of calcium. (Source: USDA)


  • Three ounces of canned sardines has 325 mg of calcium. (Source: NIH)

Black-eyed peas

  • One cup of black-eyed peas contains 41 mg of calcium. (Source: USDA)

Collard greens



Other foods have calcium added in. These products are sometimes called calcium-fortified.

Orange juice

  • Six ounces of fortified orange juice has 261 mg of calcium. (Source: NIH)

Soy milk

  • Eight ounces of fortified soy milk contains 299 mg of calcium. (Source: NIH)

For more information about calcium, or to meet with a registered dietitian to discuss a nutrition plan that fits your unique body, call EIRMC's Wellness Center at (208) 535-4200.