Got milk? We've all heard that calcium is one of the most important nutritional building blocks in our body: The mineral (the most abundant of all in the human body) helps to maintain strong, healthy bones and teeth, and also aids in vascular contraction and muscle function, among other essential functions, according to the NIH.
We've also all heard that a nice, cold glass of milk is the best way to get our much-needed calcium. And it's a well-earned reputation: a one-cup serving of milk has about 300 mg of calcium (consider choosing milk from grass-fed cows, which one study linked to heart healthy benefits -- for more info on organic milk, click here).
The recommended daily intake of calcium for an adult between the ages of 19 and 50 is 1,000 mg a day. (Adolescents, the elderly and pregnant women need varying amounts -- check out the full guidelines here).
But whether you're vegan, vegetarian, dairy-free or just don't like the taste of milk, the truth is that it isn't the only way to work toward your 1,000-a-day. We gathered some of the most calcium-rich foods out there (including many vegan and vegetarian options) -- just be sure to pair each of them with adequate vitamin D intake (the body needs this nutrient to absorb calcium, and milk is already fortified with it). While there's some concern that the body can't absorb enough vitamin D from food sources alone, try to aim for foods such as fatty fish that are rich in the nutrient, says Toby Smithson, a registered dietitian and spokesperson for the American Dietetic Association.
Which non-milk option is your favorite way to make sure you get enough calcium?