Lactose Intolerant? | Dairy-Free Calcium Sources

Milk and dairy products include some nutrients required for good overall health – including protein and vitamins such as vitamin D, B12 and A.

Lactose is also important for the absorption of other minerals such as magnesium and zinc. If you suffer from intolerance to lactose, it can put you in a vulnerable position for issues with your health and bones if you don’t replace the missing components from your diet in the necessary amounts.

What Does Lactose
Intolerant mean?

Lactose intolerance is a common complaint where a person cannot digest lactose. Lactose is a form of sugar found in milk and dairy products.

Lactose Intolerance Symptoms

Wind, bloating, diarrhoea and cramps which may occur a few hours after consuming a product containing lactose.

How bad the symptoms may be can depend on how much you have consumed.

Many people can tolerate small amounts of dairy, but beyond a certain point suffer discomfort. Some people find they are symptomatic if they consume any dairy products at all; it all depends on the individual.

The body requires lactase to break lactose down in the body to two sugars known as glucose and galactose.

A person that is lactose intolerant cannot produce enough lactase which means it stays in the digestive system and ferments, which in turn causes the unpleasant symptoms associated with the intolerance.

Why is calcium important?

Calcium is crucial in the human body. It has more functions than simply building strong bones and teeth; although that certainly is the function it is most famous for.

muscle contraction

Calcium is also essential for muscle contraction

This is not only relevant to contractions from exercise, but also essential contractions such as the heart beating. It also plays a role in blood clotting – and even maintaining healthy blood vessels!

Effects of Calcium Deficiency


General malnutrition in a fitness context may translate to delayed recovery and it will hinder your progress at training. Being malnourished may also affect your mood and also your skin and hair.

Although bone health is a major concern for those deficient in calcium and vitamin D especially, the side effects of deficiency will carry over to other aspects of life too.


This is a precursor to osteoporosis if not treated accordingly. This basically means you have a low bone mineral density.


Osteoporosis means your bones have become brittle and so places you in a high risk category for injuries such as fractures and breaks.

None-Dairy Calcium Sources

almond cacao smoothie

White beans

A great source of iron and calcium, these taste great in a homemade chilli or even mixed in with a leafy green salad. You can also use them to make a tasty white bean hummus, add in some spices to give it an extra kick!

Tinned fish

Tinned fish (with the bones) are a fantastic source of calcium. Mash the bones in with the fish and you won’t notice they are there as much since the canning process softens them up, therefore they break up easily. Tinned salmon is also great for giving an extra boost in healthy fats and works really well for snacks on-the-go!

Black eyed peas

These peas pack a powerful calcium punch and are packed with plenty of other nutrients to give your health a boost such as folate and potassium. They taste great in a salad but you can also make really great brownies using them too, you would never guess that they have peas in them!


Almonds are another good source of calcium for those that are seeking a source outside of dairy products. Nuts are a great source of fats and also vitamin e and iron. They are however quite calorie dense so ensure you keep an eye on your portion sizes!

Kale and leafy greens

Kale and leafy greens are full to the brim with nutrients and a great source of calcium. Leafy greens are great to add to a smoothie or as a base for a salad.

Take home message

You don’t have to consume dairy to hit your calcium targets for the day.

However, if you are not going to include dairy in your diet it is crucial you ensure you obtain enough of this nutrient from other sources to maintain your health.



Writer and expert

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