Non-dairy sources of calcium

dr. Fiastuti Witjaksono, Sp.GK(K), MS
dr. Fiastuti Witjaksono, Sp.GK(K), MS. Photo: Priv. Doc.

IO – People who suffer from lactose intolerance will feel a great deal of discomfort if they consume dairy-based foods and beverages. The discomfort may take the form of bloating, diarrhea, or even stomach cramps. This is unfortunate, as they cannot consume milk and its processed products, even though those constitute an important source of calcium, which is necessary to keep the bones strong and teeth healthy. 

Most people think that lactose intolerance is the same as “milk allergy”, even though they are quite different. “Milk allergy” is a severe reaction caused by the body’s immune system when exposed to certain proteins in cow’s milk, while lactose intolerance occurs because the digestive tract produces insufficient lactase enzyme. This enzyme is necessary to allow the body to safely process lactose, the natural sugar type contained in milk. 

When the small intestine isn’t supplied with sufficient lactase enzyme, the body will not be able to process and absorb lactose. Therefore, it will continue to move towards the large intestine. Here, lactose is fermented by large intestine bacteria, to produce excessive acid and gas. This is why lactose intolerance can become so painful and uncomfortable. Unfortunately, there is no cure for lactose intolerance. At least, not yet. 

Non-Dairy Alternatives 

In a webinar held last Saturday (12/02/2022), dr. Fiastuti Witjaksono, Sp.GK(K), MS, a Siloam MRCCC Hospital nutritionist, states that people who suffer from lactose intolerance can still obtain enough calcium for their bodies by consuming the following: 


Fish is a high-calcium food that people can consume instead of milk. Among fish, one with the highest calcium content is sardines. Just 100 gr of this fish contains 382 mg calcium. Routine consumption of sardines can help the body get its daily calcium needs. 

Tofu and Tempe 

Tofu and tempe are made of soybean. They are highly nutritious as well as delicious, and calcium is not the only nutrient they are rich in. They are good and safe for people who suffer from lactose intolerance. 


Spinach can also be a lifesaver for lactose intolerance sufferers. Among others, this delicate green vegetable is rich in calcium – no less than 159 mg in each 100 gr. 


Almond consumption benefits our physical health greatly. Among others, it helps strengthen the bones and teeth: 100 gr almond contains 264 mg calcium and phosphor. 


Seaweed is surprisingly rich in calcium. Just 100 gr of it contains 168 mg calcium. It is also rich in vitamin K, which helps wounds to heal faster and reduces the risk of heart disease. (est)