Calcium is a tricky beast:
- If you get over 250 percent of your recommended daily allowance, your body can OD on it
- If you don’t get enough, your bones, teeth and muscles will suffer
- You can only absorb up to 60 percent of your recommended daily allowance at a time
- You need Vitamin D to absorb calcium
So, with all of that in mind, what are the best ways to get calcium?
You can use supplements—like TUMS—but the best source of vitamins and nutrients is food.
If you’re an omnivore, dairy makes a lot of sense
Don’t overdo it, and don’t consume dairy (primarily) through high fat sources—like full fat cheeses—but in moderation, even full fat cheese is fine.
If you like yoghurt, be conscious of how much sugar (and fat) your favorite brand includes. I prefer my yoghurt nonfat and plain. Trader Joe’s actually has a really great French Style nonfat plain yoghurt. I add stevia, vanilla extract, and some cinnamon, and it’s amazing (healthy and relatively low-cal). Sometimes I mix in fresh blueberries (for brain health), and then it’s a real treat.
Trader Joe’s also has Irish sharp cheddar, reduced fat, which is yummy, I like to have a slice on its own, or melted on whole wheat bread.
Nonfat, or low fat milk with cereal (organic oatmeal with milk is a great breakfast treat) or alone, is another great source.
If you prefer to get your calcium from non-animal sources
Oranges offer 6 percent of your recommended daily allowance. Tofu, when processed with calcium sulfate, has 20 to 33 percent per 4-ounce serving. Cooked collard greens offer 36 percent of your RDA per cup. Almonds and broccoli both offer about 9 percent of your recommended daily allowance per serving.
For more ways to get calcium without consuming dairy, check out The Vegetarian Resource Group’s post  on calcium in a vegan diet.
For a more complete picture of calcium and its absorption, The National Institute of Health’s Office of Dietary Supplements has a great calcium fact sheet .
And two last parting tips: do engage in weight-bearing exercise in order to keep calcium in your bones, and don’t eat too much meat. Excessive amounts of protein can actually leech calcium from your bones as can too much caffeine, salt, and carbonated beverages.
So, how do you approach the calcium conundrum? Or how do you hope to change your approach?