Calcium is only one of many nutrients important to optimal health but it gets nearly all the attention, next to the macro-nutrient protein, because of the campaigns the dairy industry has been waging for decades. These brain-washers, like Got Milk as well as the campaign to promote chocolate milk after athletic events, have created the impression that a deficiency of dairy and calcium was nutrition enemy public number one. As we well know, public enemy number one is too much C.R.A.P. (Cow products, Refined food, Artificial ingredients, Processed hyper-caloric Frankenfoods).
I will share with you my secret to getting enough calcium daily that I have been using for 30 years….I never think about it. I eat a broad range of fruits, vegetables, legumes, limited seeds, and whole grains. And you can do the same.
However, for clarification, there are great resources to learn more about the calcium content of plant-based foods and table listing those richest in calcium, such as PCRM's vegetarian starter kit. Collard greens, beans, figs, fortified “mylks,” and fortified orange juice (not a big fan of that sugary brew however) are all rich in calcium.
it doesn't do a body good
Am I concerned about dairy intake beyond the issues of saturated fat and the impact of the cattle industry on the environment and the inhumane treatment of dairy cows? I am concerned about the C of CRAP from a medical standpoint. Excess animal protein introduces a large acid load to the body not found in plant-based diets that tend to alkalinize the body. It has been hypothesized that to overcome these slightly acidfying effects of animal-based diets, buffers in the bone, like bicarbonate, are released, and bone health suffers. There are communities that eat low amounts of calcium, are largely plant-based, and have low rates of osteoporosis. Finally, there is at least some concern that taking calcium supplements in excess can increase the development of heart disease, a point requiring further evaluation at present (http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23381719 ).
Overall, a daily plan to eat sources of calcium rich foods like beans, figs and greens, eating plant-based protein sources, enjoying some sunshine, taking a vitamin D supplement (around 2,000 IU a day), not smoking, and avoiding excess salt is a great plan for overall health and bone health too.