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Dairy Free Calcium Rich Foods

This post may be helpful for anyone wanting to include more calcium rich foods in their diet and may be particularly helpful for any new Mummas who have been advised to exclude dairy from their diet while breastfeeding.

If you ask most people where they get calcium in their diet they will say dairy but there are also many other options!

Firstly it's important to know why we need calcium:
- to maintain bone density, structure and strength, including our teeth!
- for muscle contraction and cardiac rhythm
- hormone regulation
- blood clotting
- nerve function

After pregnancy, when oestrogen levels naturally start to decline, bone density follows. Making this a particularly important time to maintain calcium intake. 

In order to avoid the now fairly common condition, osteoporosis, later in the life, it is imperative to be aware of not only calcium intake, but Vitamin D levels and regular exercise.

Dairy Free Calcium Rich Foods to include in your diet

Fish (with bones)
- tinned sardines and mackerel (sustainable, rich in omega-3, cost effective)
- tinned salmon with soft bones
- herring
- prawns, oysters, clams

- wakame (buy dried and hydrate at home - shop bought sushi salads usually contain many additives and preservatives)

Dark Leafy Greens
- broccoli
- kale
- bok choy
- watercress
- spinach and silverbeet (must be cooked to reduce oxalate and phytic acid content)

Beans / Legumes
- chickpeas
- lentils
- green peas
- cannellini beans
- pinot beans
- soy (edamame, tofu, tempeh, soy milk - organic to avoid GMOs)

- dried figs contain more calcium than fresh figs but also more sugar and calories

Nuts & Seeds
- almonds
- brazil nuts
- pumpkin seeds
- sunflower seeds

- whole seeds
- unhulled tahini

Calcium fortified non-dairy milk
- soy, almond, oat, rice milk
(have varying amounts of protein and sugar content, check the labels)

Vitamin D
- is essential for calcium absorption
- check via a blood test and supplement if necessary 

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