Dairy products like cow's milk are the primary sources of dietary calcium for most people. Unfortunately, people who are lactose intolerant can't eat these products so they often suffer from inadequate levels of this essential mineral. Calcium deficiency can lead to health problems associated with weak bones, such as osteoporosis, which can interfere with a person's daily activities. Fortunately, there are many other calcium-rich foods that are safe for people who are lactose intolerant.
To maintain strong and healthy bones, adults should achieve the recommended daily calcium intake, which is between 1,000 and 1,200 mg. It is especially important for women to get adequate calcium from their diet since they have a higher risk of osteoporosis. If you suffer from lactose intolerance, here are some calcium-rich foods that are safe for you to eat:
Beans -- Beans, especially when baked, are rich in calcium and proteins. A single cup of baked beans contains approximately 154 mg of calcium.
Salmon -- Many people know that salmon is a good source of omega-3 fatty acids, but few people know that it is also a good source of calcium. Three ounces of canned salmon can provide 181 mg of calcium.
Calcium-fortified foods -- Nowadays, there are many foods available on the market that have been fortified with calcium. These foods include soy milk, almond milk, rice milk, orange juice, cranberry juice, cereals, and breakfast bars. Calcium-fortified juices and soy milk provide the same amount of calcium as a single serving of milk.
Oatmeal -- A single cup of oatmeal provides 100-150 mg of calcium. This is great because oatmeal is a versatile food that can be added to many other foods, such as cereal, yogurt, or baked goods.
Green leafy vegetables -- Each serving of spinach, broccoli, collards, or any other leafy greens has 100 mg of calcium. So make sure to eat your greens.
Nuts -- Almonds and Brazil nuts are great snacks since they have low carbohydrate content and are rich in calcium, having approximately 100 mg per serving.
Fermented foods -- The fermentation process significantly reduces the amount of lactose present in dairy so that they are safer and easier to digest for people who are lactose intolerant. Each cup of fermented foods like yogurt and kefir provides 350-450 mg of calcium. If you're worried that commercially available fermented products might still have side effects, ferment your own dairy at home for at least 24 hours to give bacteria enough time to digest the lactose.
Tips on how to increase your calcium levels
The following tips ensure that your body is absorbing as much calcium as possible even if you are lactose intolerant.
Avoid soft drinks -- Soda contains high levels of phosphoric acid that can interfere with calcium absorption and even leach calcium from the bones. The body sacrifices calcium to neutralize the acid so that it can't inflict damage on the organs. Moreover, the caffeine in soda promotes the excretion of calcium from the body.
Get enough vitamin D -- Calcium and vitamin D are closely related with each other. For the body to efficiently absorb calcium, there should be adequate levels of vitamin D present. This means that no matter how much calcium-rich foods you eat, if you don't get enough vitamin D, all that calcium will go to waste. Increase vitamin D levels in your body by getting 5-10 minutes of sun exposure per day. If for some reason you can't be exposed to sunlight, you can also get vitamin D from eggs, salmon, oysters, shrimps, mushrooms, and fortified foods.
Take calcium supplements -- Since there are limited calcium sources for people who are lactose intolerant, they might have to depend on supplements. Different supplements contain different calcium compounds so they provide varying levels of the mineral. The most common and the cheapest form found in supplements is calcium carbonate. This contains approximately 40 percent elemental calcium which makes it a good choice. Note that some calcium supplements may have other side effects so they should be taken in moderation.
Learn more about maintaining bone health at Health.news.