Calcium is a mineral that is essential to bone health, cardiovascular health, muscle maintenance, circulatory health, and blood clotting. Calcium also acts as an enzyme activator. While calcium is found in milk and dairy products, it is also available from other food sources, such as green leafy vegetables, seafood (eating salmon with the bones provides an even greater dose), almonds, blackstrap molasses, broccoli, enriched soy and rice milk products, figs, soybeans and tofu.
Calcium is also available in supplement form in several varieties. The most common variety is calcium carbonate which needs to be taken with food in order to be assimilated into the body properly, as it is broken down in the body by hydrochloric acid which is released in the stomach during digestion. Another common variety is calcium chelate, in which the calcium has already be bound with an acid and thus can be taken by itself at any time of day.
If you're on the dairy-free diet, learn about Dairy-Free Calcium Sources to make sure you're getting enough of this vital nutrient.