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.
“Do I Need to Supplement?”
It’s important you speak with your doctor before taking any calcium supplements for a few reasons:
- Calcium has the potential to interfere with a wide variety of medications
- 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.
- 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!
- 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.
- Taking calcium and magnesium at bedtime or between meals, when your stomach may be more acidic, is often helpful for better absorption
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:
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
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
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