It’s an unfortunate reality, but arthritis and osteoporosis runs in my family. Which means, I’ve got to be extra conscious of how much pure, natural calcium I get in my diet. My mom is always reminding me how critical it is for me to stay on top of it while I’m still young because once the damage is done, its often irreversible. The only problem is in finding where to get all that calcium. Along my journey to find the best sources of calcium for my body, I’ve come to learn, it’s actually where we least expect it to be.
The Problem With Pills
For a while I thought I could just pop a pill everyday and be done with it, until I learned that calcium supplements are rarely absorbed completely by the body. It’s just not the same as getting your Ca directly from whole foods. Which means, you might be able to get a little extra boost from the most raw forms of calcium, such as Garden of Life’s Raw Calcium, but it’s not the ideal solution.
The Dairy Dilemma
An overwhelmingly aggressive series of dairy ad campaigns have led to the mass misbelief that milk and dairy products are the best source of calcium. While milk does contain roughly 194 mg of calcium per 100 calories, many studies indicate that processed, pasteurized dairy acidifies within the body and actually extracts calcium from our bones, rather than adding to it, which is the opposite that we want for our bodies! And, if you’re thinking that almond or soy milk are the answer, think again. While these products do have many other health benefits, calcium is usually not one of them due to the fact that most non-dairy milks add fortified calcium back into their product artificially.
Fruit or Fiction
For a long time, I just assumed I’d have to up the ante on the amount of apples and oranges I ate to make up for all the extra natural calcium my body needs to stay strong. Until I actually paid attention to the numbers behind citrus fruits and learned that an orange only has about 60mg of calcium. I suppose you could juice it, which I sometimes do, but I’m not sure what percent of calcium is retained in this process.
Going for the Greens
Recently, I found my saving grace when I learned from Dr. Furhman that leafy green vegetables are, by far, the best natural food-based source of calcium we can add to our diet. Simply by adding more greens to your daily menu, you can kick the pills to the curb and get plenty of healthy, easily absorbed calcium into your diet. Plus, green leafy veggies often have a negative caloric effect (especially when consumed raw), which could help you drop a few pounds while you’re at it!
Check out the calcium stats for yourself:
- Bok Choy has 775 mg per 100 calories (perfect for stir fry)
- Collard Greens offer 539 mg per 100 calories (yummy in salad)
- Kale gives you 257 mg per 100 calories (my favorite in soup)
- Romaine lettuce packs 194 mg into 100 calories (a salad staple)
- (Milk is next in line)