Calcium Rich Foods for Good Oral Health for all- including Vegetarians + those with Dairy Intolerance
Calcium, Vitamin D and Phosphorus are all essential in the formation of strong bones and teeth.
Ensuring efficient calcium and mineral intake is essential for people of all ages and with different diets. Babies and young children need it to grow strong teeth and bones; vegetarians and dairy intolerant people may find it challenging to get enough plant-based calcium, but they need it just as much as the rest of us. Adults, contrary to some beliefs, need calcium to maintain healthy teeth and strong bones. Calcium deficiency can lead to weakening bones and even osteoporosis. When bones and teeth are weakened, the likelihood of breaking increases tremendously.
Remembering that not everyone requires the same amount of calcium is important. Dietary intake recommendations are based on gender and age. For example, children and pregnant women need more calcium than others.
Yogurt, milk and cheese are all great sources of calcium and minerals, but there are many other foods- even plant-based foods- that can provide sufficient amounts.
Here are 8 non-dairy, vegetarian friendly calcium rich foods for good oral health:
- Chia seeds: Two tablespoons of chia seeds provide up to 180 mg of calcium. Chia seeds are also rich in other minerals, such as boron, which contribute to healthy overall bodily functions. Chia seeds are great when added to smoothies, on top of yogurt, or on salads!
- Almonds: Almonds are an easy, healthy snack that can be an excellent source of your recommended daily calcium intake. Though full of healthy fats, these should be limited to a handful, or a quarter of a cup, per daily serving.
- Dried or fresh figs: It’s fig season! Picking up some of these delicious fruit in the grocery store isn’t always available- but dried figs are! These are a great healthy snack that are also rich in fiber and antioxidants, along with calcium.
- Sunflower seeds: Rich in magnesium, vitamin E, copper and calcium, sunflower seed kernels are a great nutrient rich food. It’s important to select sunflower seeds that are raw and unsalted, as overly salted seeds can counteract the healthy benefits.
- Sweet potatoes: Sweet potatoes are significantly lower on the glycemic index than white potatoes, which makes them an excellent, low calorie and nutrient-rich addition to any meal! They’re rich in calcium, potassium, and vitamins A and C. Make some healthy baked sweet potato fries for a great side dish.
- Kale: This leafy green is full of antioxidants and calcium. Also being very low in calories, Kale is an excellent addition to any diet. Try it in a salad (massage the leaves before adding to soften them up a bit), saute it with garlic or throw it in a smoothie for a lightly flavoured dose of this superfood!
- Oranges and orange juice: A nice cold orange is a perfect treat for kids and adults alike on a hot summer day. Did you know that a large orange contains 74 mg of calcium? Calcium-fortified orange juice contains over 4 times that amount. Be sure to not overdo it though- the acid in citrus fruits and juices can damage tooth enamel if consumed excessively.
- Butternut squash: Similar to the sweet potato, butternut squash is rich in calcium, vitamin C and vitamin A. There are tons of recipes for this delicious, nutrious veggie- but you could try cubing some up and add it to soups, make vegetarian tacos, or roast it.
Healthy Summer Snack Tip: Try making a calcium-rich trail mix with almonds, dried figs, sunflower seeds and some chia seeds.