If you’re lactose intolerant or simply want to live a healthier life, a dairy-free diet may be right for you. Some people are hesitant to try this type of diet because they worry they won’t get enough calcium to meet their needs. There’s really no reason for concern. With the right eating plan, you can get all the calcium you need in your diet.

Why You Need Calcium

Most people know that calcium is vital to keep the bones and teeth in good condition; but this mineral is good for so many other functions. More than 95 percent of the calcium in your body is stored in your bones for later use. The rest of the calcium is found in the nerves, blood and muscles to help with muscle contraction, blood coagulation and neurotransmitter release.

When you don’t get enough calcium through your diet, your body leeches this mineral from your bones and makes them weak and more prone to breaks and fractures. Lack of calcium also interferes with blood clotting and changes the condition of the muscles. Some signs of calcium deficiency include:

  • sensitivity to cold weather
  • sweating around the head
  • tooth decay
  • muscle cramps
  • insomnia
  • paleness
  • nervousness
  • fatigue
  • heart palpitations
  • Why Milk is Not a Healthy Source of Calcium

    Because of the way milk is produced and processed, it’s not the healthiest source of calcium around. The dairy cows are pumped with hormones and antibiotics that can get into the milk supply and taint it. The hormones are used to make dairy cows produce more milk than they’re naturally supposed to.

    Antibiotics are given to the livestock to control diseases and infections. Even if the animals aren’t sick, they are still given antibiotics – just in case. The uncontrolled use of these drugs in farm animals is the main reason for antibiotic-resistant strains of bacteria popping up everywhere.

    In addition to antibiotics and hormones, dairy cows are fed an unnatural diet of chemically treated grain. The grain is often filled with the leftover parts of slaughtered animals. These dead animal parts help stretch the feed and provide a cheap source of protein for the cows.

    Cows are vegetarian. Anytime they eat anything other than grass, it reduces the quality of milk they produce. Most of the time, milk produced in this manner is not even worth drinking.

    Before milk hits store shelves, it’s pasteurized so that it’s safe to drink. Pasteurization kills the enzymes needed for digestion and makes some of the calcium in milk impossible for the body to absorb. This may account for the increase in osteoporosis in the United States.

    How to Get Enough Calcium in a Dairy-Free Diet

    If you eat a diet rich in vegetables, nuts, fish and fruits, you don’t need dairy to get the calcium you need for healthy bones and vital physiological functions. Here is a list of non-dairy foods that contain calcium.

  • grapefruit
  • oranges
  • mulberries
  • pomegranates
  • broccoli
  • bok choy
  • Chinese cabbage
  • turnip greens
  • mustard greens
  • collard greens
  • okra
  • cauliflower
  • rhubarb
  • butternut squash
  • almonds
  • Brazil nuts
  • pistachios
  • sesame seeds
  • The amount of calcium your body absorbs depends on a number of factors. You can increase how much calcium your body absorbs by eating foods rich in vitamin D. The most abundant sources of vitamin D include salmon, sardines, eggs, cod, shrimp, fish oil and mackerel.

    Also, vitamin K helps keep calcium in the bones. Foods that are rich in this nutrient include asparagus, basil leaves, beet greens, lettuce, spinach, broccoli, kale and parsley.

    Author's Bio: 

    A dairy-free diet can help you shed unwanted pounds. Learn how to lose weight and keep it off at www.TheDietSolutionProgram.com