In all my years of talking with patients and students about kidney stone prevention, not one of them has said to me, “Oh Jill, don’t worry. I get plenty of calcium each day.” Most adults don’t get anywhere near the amount of calcium they need.
The National Osteoporosis Foundation “recommends that women aged 50 and younger get 1,000 mg of calcium from all sources daily and that women aged 51 and older get 1,200 mg. For men, NOF recommends 1,000 mg of calcium daily for those age 70 and younger and 1,200 mg for men age 71 and older.”
We recommend the same amounts of daily calcium in kidney stone prevention. Not only does your skeleton need the calcium, but in stone disease, it is how we rid our bodies of excess oxalate. Many of you overate high oxalate foods like spinach and nuts all day, but the combination of this and not getting much calcium in your diet made it the perfect storm for a stone incident.
We do like all calcium to be gotten from foods and not supplements. Supplements in pill form have been shown to increase stone risk. Of course, if your doctor has prescribed calcium supplements because you have had bariatric surgery or have other malabsorption issues, take them as directed.
Many people do not or will not drink milk for various reasons. And many people don’t eat dairy products at all. It certainly makes it harder to get your calcium needs met, especially when you take away some of the best vegan sources like spinach, almonds, and almond milk. Below you will find a list that will help get your needs met without breaking your oxalate goals!
Remember to get your calcium throughout the day, split up to no more than 500mg at a time, not over, as the body will have a more challenging time absorbing it all at once. And don’t go over your total calcium requirements per day. More is not better. Except maybe for fluids!
Also, I am not telling you to have the below foods in the portion sizes listed. I am merely writing down the oxalate and calcium levels by the portion sizes they were measured. You can eat less (or more) of the listed portion size.
Non-Dairy Calcium Sources
Fortified Coconut, Rice, Flax, Oat, and Pea
Although these milks have been fortified, it is easier for the body to absorb the calcium because it’s already broken down. Shake the containers up before pouring. You want to make sure the calcium is properly mixed up and getting in your glass.
No oxalate in this milk. You can get the bulk of your calcium needs met this way.
Get the lower sugar variety and check that they have added calcium. The brand Simply Orange Juice (light) has over 350 mg of calcium and no added sugar. That being said, it still has 23 grams of naturally occurring sugar and will not suit people with diabetes. You can always choose 1/2 the portion size and drink 4 ounces. You still get 175 mg of calcium and 11 grams of naturally occurring sugar. (Oxalate is LOW. Oranges are high because of the pith).
One can is known to have up to 800 mg of calcium, zero oxalates. Get a lower sodium option.
Canned pink salmon with bones
You can get up to 232 mg of calcium without any oxalate. Watch sodium in these products.
Fortified cereals like Cheerios
Check labels on cereals and see how their calcium level stacks up. Cheerios has about 130 per 3/4 cup. And if you have it with non-dairy milk, well, there you go!
Fortified English Muffins
Check labels on each brand. Calcium levels will vary, and so will sodium. The best one is the one that is lower sodium and higher calcium. Oxalate is around 8.
43 mg calcium/1 cup chopped
12 mg oxalate/1 cup chopped
36 mg calcium/1 cup
2 mg oxalate/1 cup
Chinese Cabbage (bok choy)
74 mg calcium/1 cup
4 mg oxalate/1cup
101 mg calcium/1 cup chopped
2 mg oxlate/1 cup chopped
64 mg calcium/1 cup chopped
4 mg oxalate/1 cup chopped
109 mg calcium/1 cup
12 mg oxalate/1cup
129 mg calcium/1 cup
about 60 mg/1 cup
Mung Beans (raw)
273 mg calcium/1 cup
16 mg oxalate/1 cup
Red Kidney Beans
263 mg calcium/1 cup
30 mg oxalate/1 cup
187 calcium/1 cup cooked
0 oxalate/1 cup
So Delicious Coconutmilk Plain “Yogurt”
420 mg calcium/ 3/4 cup
Let me know what non-dairy foods and drinks you have been using to get your daily calcium needs met.