There seems to be a few questions that will always come up when you start talking about the Paleo lifestyle to someone who hasn’t been introduced to it before. From “How do you get any fiber?” to “What do you even eat?” I’m sure you’ve heard it all. One of the more common statements I hear though is how, without dairy, someone eating Paleo must be deficient in calcium. Let’s face it… in our society when you hear about calcium you think about milk or dairy foods first and then most likely think about bone health right after.
What Does Calcium Do Anyways
Most of us when we think of calcium we think of it makes our bones strong, and while yes it does help out with this, calcium does even more. Calcium helps with things like muscle contraction, blood coagulation as well as plays a role in releasing hormones and enzymes.
So yes – calcium is important to our health and should be something we make sure to have in our nutrition and diet..
Bone Health While Eating Paleo
While so many are focused on calcium itself to help with bone health there are many different sources that can actually do more for your bones then that glass of milk you may be craving. For example starting with those wonderful fat soluble vitamins the Paleo lifestyle is so known for – vitamin A, D, and K2. These vitamins are great for promoting bone health and actually ensure proper absorption and utilization of the calcium we eat.
Besides those vitamins we stress so much in the Paleo lifestyle, one other source can help with your bone health (whether you eat Paleo or not) and that is a mineral called Magnesium. Magnesium is essential for bone health and being deficient in magnesium is actually a known risk factor for osteoporosis.
So while it is important to get that ever worried about calcium intake, you can see that there are other factors that go into bone health that we should consider too.
Non-Dairy Sources of Calcium
If you are still worried about your calcium intake while eating Paleo, you can stop. There are quite a few different food sources that offer a big calcium punch that will still leave you clear of dairy products. From Sesame seeds, sardines, turnip greens, almonds, cabbage, broccoli, oranges, mustard greens, and more. Many leafy greens (which are highly promoted in the Paleo lifestyle) have more calcium per serving than your typical dairy products. For a great list of foods and their calcium break down take a look at this chart here.
As you can see there is no need to fear for your bones while eating a Paleo lifestyle. Yes you are cutting out dairy and grains that many people feel are so needed for your bone health… but you are adding in important fat soluble vitamins, healthy minerals, and other sources of calcium that you should easily be hitting that daily recommended amount of calcium. All the while – sticking to that healthy Paleo lifestyle!