Not only is calcium an important mineral for strengthening your teeth and bones, but it also plays a role in the health of your heart, nerves, muscles, and blood clotting. For most people, getting an adequate daily dose is as easy as including milk, yoghurt and other high calcium dairy into their diet.
But what if you’re vegan or lactose intolerant? Luckily, there are many other nutritious dairy-free options to get your required intake of calcium and keep your teeth strong and your health at its peak!
Below, we’ve put together a quick guide on how calcium affects your teeth, the recommended daily intake of calcium and the best dairy-free sources.
- Why is calcium good for your teeth?
- How much calcium do you need?
- Best dairy-free sources of calcium
Why is calcium good for your teeth?
Calcium reinforces the enamel on your teeth, which is the outer layer that protects the teeth from dental erosion and cavities. Your teeth are partially composed of calcium phosphate, which is why they require calcium to remain strong as the amount of tooth enamel can weaken and erode as you age. Calcium also strengthens your bones, including the jaw bone which holds the teeth in place and helps prevent gum disease.
The effect of calcium is maximised by phosphorus, as well as Vitamin D which assists the body’s absorption of calcium.
How much calcium do you need?
The recommended daily intake of calcium is dependent on age and gender, as well as other life stages including pregnancy and menopause. This is just one of the ways that pregnancy affects your teeth and nutritional needs.
For the average Australian adult, the RDI of calcium is 1,000 – 1,300mg per day. Some people are more susceptible to tooth decay and bone loss as a result of family history of osteoporosis, age, or medications that weaken bones, so their needs may differ.
Best dairy-free sources of calcium
1. Plant-based milks
Plant-based milks including soy milk, unsweetened almond milk and oat milk are a fantastic source of calcium for vegans or those who are lactose intolerant, and are a great option for nutritious breakfast in the form of a smoothie, with oats or a calcium fortified cereal, or in a cup of coffee!
One serve of soy milk contains approximately 300mg of calcium, which is nearly a third of recommended daily intake for an adult.
Often a staple in the diet of many vegetarians and vegans, tofu is not only a key source of protein, but also packs a punch when it comes to calcium content. A 100g serve of tofu contains 350mg of calcium, and can be easily incorporated into stir fries or scrambled for breakfast as an alternative to eggs.
3. Leafy greens
Believe it or not, leafy greens are also an excellent source of calcium. A 100g serve of kale has a huge 150mg of calcium, as well as more Vitamin C than an orange! Spinach, okra, and bok choi are also nutritious options and perfect for mixing into a salad.
Beans and chickpeas are a hearty and satisfying source of calcium and protein, with 100g of chickpeas containing approximately 100mg of calcium, and baked beans having 320mg of calcium per cup. Add them to soups, salads, have beans as a breakfast side, or easily turn chickpeas into hummus for a healthy snack.
Oats are a great source of fibre and calcium, and another nutritious way to start the day, providing energy and a feeling of fullness. Half a cup of dry plain oats provides 200 mg of calcium, and are even better when combined with your favourite plant milk and a sprinkle of nuts and seeds.
6. Nuts and seeds
Nuts are a super quick and easy snack, filled with protein, healthy fats and calcium. A 30g serve of almonds boasts around 80mg of calcium, while brazil nuts contain 50mg per serve. Seeds are also easy to include sprinkled in salads, over cereal, or in baked goods, with 30g of chia seeds and sesame seeds containing approximately 200mg of calcium.
Of all the fruits, oranges contain one of the highest sources of calcium, with one standard orange containing approximately 60mg of the mineral. Another good option is no-added-sugar orange juice fortified with calcium and Vitamin D. Keeping your sugar intake low and kicking your sugar cravings is also important when it comes to protecting the enamel on your teeth and preventing dental erosion.
In addition to getting the recommended daily intake of calcium and eating a variety of nutritious foods, making sure your enamel and teeth are strong also involves maintaining a good oral hygiene routine by visiting your dentist for your 6 monthly checkup and clean, brushing and flossing daily.
You can book an appointment online with our amazing dentists at one of our Gold Coast dental practices, or give our friendly reception team a call to answer any questions you may have about our treatments and assist you with scheduling an appointment!