Getting enough calcium on a low FODMAP diet

Getting Enough Calcium on a Low FODMAP Diet

Erin Dwyer - Research Dietitian, 12 December 2016

Calcium is a nutrient required for normal development of our bones as well as the proper functioning of our cardiac and neuromuscular systems. Diets low in calcium have been associated with osteoporosis – a weakening of bones that can fracture easily.

The best source of calcium is dairy, it is a convenient source and the body is able to absorb the calcium well. However, many dairy products contain lactose, the naturally occurring sugar that can increase gastrointestinal symptoms for some people. Therefore, during the initial elimination phase of the low FODMAP diet, people may restrict their dairy intake to lower the amount of lactose in their diet.

The amount of calcium you need daily depends on your age and gender, look at the table below to work out how much calcium you need per day

Males RDI/day Females RDI
19-30 1000mg 19-30 1000mg
31-50 1000mg 31-50 1000mg
51-70 1000mg 51-70 1300mg
>70 1000mg >70 1300mg

Source: Nutrient Reference Values for Australia and New Zealand 

Below are some dietary strategies to ensure your calcium intake remains adequate if you are restricting lactose and a sample meal plan too. 

  • Tip 1: Hard cheeses like cheddar contain minimal lactose and can be enjoyed throughout the day. Check out the Monash Low FODMAP App for types and serve sizes.
  • Tip 2: Non-dairy milks like Almond or Rice milk naturally don’t contain much calcium, but are appropriate on a low FODMAP diet, so look for milks that have been fortified with calcium – aim for a milk with 120mg or more of calcium per 100g of milk.
  • Tip 3: Try using plain, firm tofu as a protein source in your lunch or dinner – it contains high amounts of calcium and adds variety to your diet.
Breakfast Gluten free Weetbix with almond milk, strawberries and 1 teaspoon of chia seeds. ~64mg
Morning Tea Lactose free yoghurt, 200g ~310mg
Lunch Sandwich – low FODMAP bread with slice of cheese, canned tuna, spinach, tomato and ⅛ avocado ~320mg
Afternoon Tea 30g mixed nuts and 1 medium banana ~75mg
Dinner Spaghetti bolognaise served with ½ cup broccoli and 20g parmesan cheese ~290mg
Extra: if your requirements are 1300mg/day Add 1 cup of lactose free milk or plant based milk fortified with calcium TOTAL: ~1309mg
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