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Claudann Jones

Calcium is an important part of any well-balanced diet. It not only promotes strong bones and healthy teeth but also efficient blood clotting and responsive muscle contraction.

Recommendations for the average adult between the ages of 19 and 50 are to get 1,000 mg of calcium from their diet each day, while those 50 and older should strive to get 1,200 mg daily. Children between 9 and 18 should get 1,300 mg.

While your doctor may encourage additional calcium for your particular health or dietary needs, it’s generally not recommended to consume more than 2,500 mg per day.

Dairy products are not the only option for getting enough calcium through food. There are a ton of non-dairy alternatives, here are a few of ideas:

• Dark, leafy greens including collard, turnip, dandelion and beet greens, as well as kale, broccoli, bok choy (Chinese cabbage), okra, spinach and rhubarb stalks (Note: Don't eat the rhubarb leaves — they’re toxic even in small amounts!)

• Figs

• Fish with soft, edible bones (such as canned sardines and salmon)

• Soybeans and other soy products (including soy-based beverages, soy yogurt and tempeh)

• White beans

• Calcium-fortified juices, cereals, bread, soy beverages, rice beverages and tofu (check product labels for calcium content)

For more information on health and wellness, contact Claudann Jones, Smith County Extension agent for family and community health, at 903-590-2980 or email at cmjones@ag.tamu.edu.

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