Sources of Calcium For Lactose Intolerant
Non-Dairy Sources of Calcium
Many non-dairy foods are high in calcium. Green vegetables like broccoli and kale, and fish with edible bones like sardines and salmon, are excellent sources of calcium. Also, some cultured yogurts, despite containing lactose may be manageable sources of calcium.
See the following table for a sample list of common foods that are good sources of dietary calcium. If you are lactase-deficient and have difficulty tolerating dairy foods, include regular amounts of these foods in your daily diet.
Table 1. Calcium and Lactose in Common Foods
|Food||Calcium Content||Lactose Content|
|Calcium-fortified orange juice (1 cup)||308-344mg||0mg|
|Sardines with edible bones (3oz)||270mg||0mg|
|Salmon, canned, w/ edible bones (3oz)||205mg||0mg|
|Soymilk, fortified (1 cup)||200mg||0mg|
|Broccoli, raw (1 cup)||90mg||0mg|
|Pinto beans (1/2 cup)||40mg||0mg|
|Tuna, canned (3oz)||10mg||0mg|
|Lettuce greens (1/2 cup)||10mg||0mg|
|Yogurt, plain low-fat (1 cup)||415mg||5g|
|Milk, reduced fat, (1 cup)||295mg||11g|
|Swiss cheese (1 oz)||270mg||1g|
|Ice cream (1/2 cup)||85mg||6g|
|Cottage cheese (1/2 cup)||75mg||2-3g|
Source: Adapted from Manual of Clinical Dietetics. 6th ed. American Dietetic Association, 2000; and Soy Dairy Alternatives.
Need For Balanced Diet
As you can see from the above sample list, there are quite a few low-lactose foods that can provide the calcium you need, even if your intake of milk and dairy products is limited. However, calcium-content is only one factor. You need to be able to absorb the calcium you eat, which requires the presence or absence of other nutrients and ingredients.
Oxalates Inhibit Calcium Absorption
Some calcium-containing vegetables (Swiss chard, spinach, and rhubarb) are not useful sources as they contain substances called oxalates, which prevent calcium absorption.
Importance of Vitamin D
Calcium is absorbed only when there is a sufficient supply of vitamin D in the body. Sources of vitamin D include eggs and liver. Alternatively, since sunlight also helps the body obtain vitamin D, anyone with regular exposure to the sun needs less vitamin D in their diet.
Planning a Healthy Balanced Diet
For optimum nutrition, I recommend anyone with lactose intolerance to consult their dietitian or nutritionist in order to plan a healthy balanced eating plan, and determine what (if any) supplements are needed.