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If I cannot eat dairy foods, how can I get enough calcium?

If you cannot eat dairy foods, you can get enough calcium from many other foods. Almost any nondairy milk out there today is fortified with calcium and vitamin D, including fortified soy, almond and hemp milks. You can also get calcium from broccolis and many other plants. 
If you're lactose intolerant, it can be hard to get enough calcium. Lactose is the sugar that is found in dairy products like milk. Lactose intolerance means your body has a hard time digesting foods that contain lactose. You may have symptoms like gas, bloating, stomach cramps, diarrhea, and nausea. Lactose intolerance can start at any age but often starts when you get older.

Lactose-reduced and lactose-free products are sold in food stores. There's a great variety, including milk, cheese, and ice cream. You can also take pills or liquids before eating dairy foods to help you digest them. You can buy these pills at the grocery store or drug store. Please note: If you have symptoms of lactose intolerance, see your doctor or nurse. These symptoms could also be from a different, more serious illness.
People who are lactose intolerant or who are vegans (eat only plant-based foods) can choose from other food sources of calcium, including canned salmon with bones, sardines, Chinese cabbage, bok choy, kale, collard greens, turnip greens, mustard greens, broccoli, and calcium-fortified orange juice. Some cereals also have calcium added. You can also take calcium pills. Talk to your doctor or nurse first to see which one is best for you.

This answer is based on source information from National Women's Health Information Center.
Nell Stephenson
Nutrition & Dietetics
Many of us think that dairy is the main source of calcium, but there are alternate sources that actually create a healthier calcium balance in our bodies. Watch nutritional coach Nell Stephenson explain how leafy greens are also rich in calcium.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.