Important for healthy bones and teeth and also plays a role in muscle contraction and relaxation, blood clotting, nerve function and regulation of blood pressure.
While dairy products can provide plenty of calcium, there are also many plant sources of calcium. Those who don't eat dairy can obtain their calcium from fortified non-dairy milks (eg soy, rice, oat or almond milks) or other plant foods rich in calcium.
Vitamin D helps with calcium absorption while sodium and caffeine reduce absorption.
Daily Calcium requirements
Women over 70 years 1300mg
Men 19-70 years 1000mg
Men over 70 years 1300mg
Tips for meeting your Calcium needs
Consume calcium-containing plant foods daily including kale, broccoli, Asian greens, hard tofu, almonds, unhulled tahini (sesame seed paste), dried figs and legumes.
If you don’t eat dairy products, consider a calcium-fortified plant milk such as soy, oat, almond or rice milk (but it’s important to check labels as not all non-dairy milks are fortified with calcium)
Limit your salt intake
Limit caffeine from tea, coffee, cola & ‘energy’ drinks.
Make sure that you get enough vitamin D from sensible sunlight exposure or a supplement.
Source: Dr Kate Marsh BSc, MNutrDiet, PhD, Grad Cert Diab Edn & Mgt Advanced Accredited Practising Dietitian