Meeting Calcium Requirements on the Low-FODMAP Diet

Written by Colleen Francioli, CNC

Reviewed by Joanna Baker, APD, AN, RN

Why You Need Calcium

A diet consisting of mostly refined, processed foods, void of dairy and fresh foods (including leafy greens) is most likely not meeting daily calcium requirements.

So why is calcium important?

You may know that calcium is important for the development and maintenance of bones and teeth. It’s important for when we grow from babies to children but also lifelong as we age to keep our bones healthy. We need calcium for muscle movement, fluid secretion, and our hearts also depend on it for contraction. Our nervous system needs calcium for nerve transmission and the release of neurotransmitters like norepinephrine and serotonin.  Ninety-five percent of the serotonin (5HT) found in the body resides in the gut.  Serotonin is an integral neurotransmitter in the enteric nervous system that profoundly impacts bowel function.  Learn more about serotonin and the gut here.

A healthy gut requires a good amount of calcium, B-Vitamins and Vitamin D.  Learn more here Have Irritable Bowel Syndrome? Vitamin D and Other Vitamins and Minerals

With less calcium, the digestive muscles degenerate and stop contracting efficiently.  The digestion process then becomes much slower.

What’s with Dairy & FODMAPs, Geraldine Van Oord APD, http://www.everydaynutrition.com.au

 

“Do I Need to Supplement?”

It’s important you speak with your doctor before taking any calcium supplements for a few reasons:

  1. Calcium has the potential to interfere with a wide variety of medications
  2. If you have IBS-D, choose a calcium supplement that does not contain high amounts of magnesium. Magnesium carries a possible side effect of diarrhea.  Your doctor may suggest calcium carbonate or Caltrate Plus which has 600 mg calcium and a small amount of magnesium – 50 mg.
  3. For those with IBS-C – too much calcium can lead to gas, constipation and bloating. In general, calcium carbonate tends to be the most constipating. Again speak with your doctor!
  4. If your doctor says you need calcium for bone strength, he/she may recommend that it has less than 500 mg and also contains vitamin D, as it will help with absorption.
  5. Taking calcium and magnesium at bedtime or between meals, when your stomach may be more acidic, is often helpful for better absorption

What’s with Dairy & FODMAPs, Geraldine Van Oord APD, http://www.everydaynutrition.com.au

 

Sources of Low-FODMAP Calcium 

If your doctor does not feel you need to supplement with calcium, look to get calcium from your diet.

Whether you consumed dairy products before starting the low-FODMAP diet, or you got your calcium from a plant-based diet, you can still aim to meet your daily calcium needs as dairy is not omitted from the diet and a few low-FODMAP vegetables and legumes contain calcium.

Take a look at the following examples of low-FODMAP foods and servings that contain great to good sources of calcium:

DAIRY

Lactose-free milk, 1 cup, 300 mg

Lactose-free yogurt, 6 oz [Still waiting to find out, might be 250 mg]

Swiss cheese, 2 oz, 530 mg

Cheddar cheese, 2 oz, 400 mg

 

PLANT-BASED DIET

Collard greens, cooked, 1 cup 357 mg

Ricemilk, commercial, calcium-fortified, plain, 8 ounces 200-300 mg

Turnip greens, cooked, 1 cup 249 mg

Tempeh, 1 cup 184 mg

Kale, cooked 1 cup 179 mg

Soybeans, cooked 1 cup 175 mg

Bok choy, cooked 1 cup 158 mg

Mustard greens, cooked 1 cup 152 mg

Firm Tofu, 3 ox, 110 mg

Broccoli, cooked, 1 cup 62 mg

Brazil nuts, 3 oz (about 8-10 nuts) 160 mg

Edamame, 1 cup/50g, cooked 98 mg

Sunflower seeds, 2 oz, 80 mg

Sesame seeds, 2 oz, 75 mg

Chia seeds, 2 tablespoons, 155 mg

FISH

Sardines, 3 ounces (85g), 325 mg

1 herring fillet, 106 mg

*Based on the USDA Nutrient Database for Standard Reference and Staying Healthy with Nutrition, by Elson M. Haas, MD

Foods High in Calcium and Vitamin D

  • Fatty fish (tuna, mackerel, and salmon)
  • Hard cheese
  • Egg yolks

Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA) for Calcium

Men and women, aged 19 to 50 years old: 1,000 milligrams per day

Women over 51-70: 1,200 milligrams per day

Men 51-70: 1,000 milligrams per day

Men and women 71+ years: 1,200 milligrams per day