Can I get my daily calcium requirements without drinking milk?

My passion for health comes from my own journey to be the healthiest person I can.

Even with great eating and exercise habits, I do have a kidney disease, and do have abnormal blood test results quite regularly.  Recently I asked to have some minerals in my blood tested, to find out I am low in Zinc, very low in Vitamin D, low in calcium in my blood, and Iron is mediocre.  Grr… What the heck!  If I eat all whole foods and no processed shit, why are these minerals still low?  Some reading has shown that people with renal issues have lower blood calcium levels (blood calcium levels are tightly regulated by the body, and changes in food can sometimes not change blood calcium levels).  Does this mean because I have a kidney disease it is affected my calcium levels?  I figure it's worth figuring out if the decrease in calcium is due to a dietary defect, or a kidney defect!  I am currently supplementing, and in the mean time on a quest to figure out how I can increase these mineral levels naturally.  I have decided to start with Calcium.  I know I need to increase my calcium intake, not only for bone health and prevention of Osteoporosis, but also "Calcium is required for vascular contraction and vasodilation, muscle function, nerve transmission, intracellular signaling and hormonal secretion".

I don't drink milk.  In the past I have suffered from severe cystic acne, awful debilitating stomach cramps, and other issues that I tracked down to milk and yogurt consumption.  The less dairy I consume the better, less bloated, healthier I feel.  Everyone is different remember πŸ™‚

SO, knowing that dairy is one of the most packed sources of calcium, how can I get my daily recommended in, without consuming it?

I have started supplementing with a seaweed based source of calcium.  It was explained to me that when you take calcium from another source (generally from types of rocks), there has been research showing it can lead to cancers and hardening of the arteries.  Given that my kidney are already making my heart work harder than it should, I have decided to spend the extra cash on the seaweed source.

How do I plan on strcturing my diet for more calcium?

An average, non lactating female adult needs roughly 1000 mg of calcium a day.

2 cups of raw chinese cabbage (bok choi) and kale would give me about 200 mg
6 ounces of fortified orange juice 284 mg (I would drink it post workout, which is one of the only times we really need that much crazy sugar coming in).
Canned sardines and salmon (in oil with bones) is crazy high in calcium- about 200-400mg per serving, I could try eating a can a day?
1 cup of white beans = 191 mg

Eating all of this in one day should mean I am not calcium deficient.

** So now consider that we only absorb about 15-30 % of the calcium that we take in from food!!  So this brings up another point, I need to improve my digestion and absorption, as well as increase the amount of calcium I am taking in from food.

Other foods high in calcium that I may consider eating:
1 cup of broccoli:  43 mg
1 cup of almonds:  378 mg (I would never eat a whole cup in a day though!).
8 dried figs: 107 mg (yum!)
1 tablespoon of blackstrap molasses: 172 mg (I should figure out how to get more of this in!).
1 cup cooked turnip greens= 190 mg= too bad I can't figure out a way to make these taste good!
1 cup raw seaweed= 126 mg…(really great to toss into dishes).

Other things that affect calcium intake:
1)  Vitamin D status.  Vitamin D helps with the absorption of calcium.  I know from blood tests that my vitamin D is also low, so needing to increase this also becomes a priority!

2)  Certain foods with phytates and oxalates decrease calcium absorption.  Some examples are:  "spinach, collard greens, sweet potatoes, rhubarb, and beans", "whole-grain products and wheat bran, beans, seeds, nuts, and soy isolates". Considering I eat a ton of spinach and sweet potato, this is also something I need to look into decreasing.
3)  High sodium and protein intakes decreases calcium absorption.  I have to watch my protein and sodium intake because of my kidney disease, so I should be fine here?
4)  Drinking more than 1 cup of coffee a day can increase calcium extretion.  It is going to become my goal to get back to less coffee in a day.  I plan on supplementing my coffee drinking with a green smoothie instead.
5)  "
Alcohol intake: alcohol intake can affect calcium status by reducing its absorption [18] and by inhibiting enzymes in the liver that help convert vitamin D to its active form [19]. However, the amount of alcohol required to affect calcium status and whether moderate alcohol consumption is helpful or harmful to bone is unknown".  It is worth looking into if I decrease overall alcohol intake if I can improve my vitamin D and calcium status.

Overall I am noticing some areas in which I need to make some major changes in my diet.  Specifically, most of the foods that are high in calcium I don't eat on a regular basis!

Where do you get your calcium from?

Have you had your vitamins and minerals checked by your doctor (they don't do it unless you ask).

Considering calcium absorption by the bones, and weight lifting are the only ways to prevent osteoporosis, what are you doing to prevent this disease?

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