Non Dairy Calcium Rich Foods: Tinned Fish

non dairy calcium rich foods
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Tinned fish is having a moment in the spotlight. We are not talking about Grandma’s tuna on white bread. With a wave of new branding, the classic pantry cupboard staple is becoming just as hip as it is convenient. On top of all that, when it comes to non dairy calcium rich foods, tinned (or canned) fish tops the list.

Many of us can’t process dairy products comfortably. Others choose not to consume them for a variety of reasons. However, dairy products are the most common source of dietary calcium. Is it possible to get enough calcium from the diet without eating dairy? Where are all the non dairy calcium rich foods? 

We, of course, are happy to offer several high quality calcium supplement options, if this nutritional gap is one that concerns you. We also suggest getting on board with this tinned fish trend, for calcium needs and so much more. Fish, and salmon specifically, is a great nutritional support for your whole musculoskeletal system. We’ve got the data to show it!

Fish and the Musculoskeletal System

Amino Acids

Fish is a complete protein, meaning it contains all of the essential amino acids the human body needs to function. Amino acids are the building blocks for enzymes, hormones, and other proteins, including new muscle.


The reason we suggest trying canned fish, as opposed to fresh, is due to its higher calcium content. Canned fish is already cooked, and the tiny bones left inside are safe to eat and can easily be mashed with a fork. You barely notice them in a finished dish. These bones supply a significant amount of calcium that fresh fish (with bones removed) does not [1]. 


If you read our editorial this month on non-dairy calcium sources, you may have learned that calcium and magnesium must be in balance in the body. Too much calcium without magnesium actually puts the body in stress mode [2]. Here again is another reason salmon is so good for you: it is also an excellent source of magnesium [1]. 

Calcium and magnesium are both bone minerals, yes, but even more importantly, they act throughout the body as chemical messengers. Essentially all cellular activities are governed in some way by these ions. One of their many important jobs is allowing for muscle movement, both the tightening and relaxation of muscles.

Omega 3 Fatty Acids

And… just in case you aren’t 100% convinced of the nutritional value of fish for your musculoskeletal system, we have one more fact for you: the most commonly tinned fatty fish (like salmon, herring, sardines, and mackerel) are the best natural source of omega-3 fatty acids EPA and DHA. Not only are omega-3’s important for your brain and cardiovascular health, but they are also potent supporters of healthy inflammatory response. Nutrients like omega-3s support healthy joint mobility and comfort, in part by promoting only healthy levels of inflammation [3]. 

Low Mercury Content

While it is important to be aware of mercury consumption when eating large, ocean-dwelling fish, salmon and other, smaller tinned fish are not high on the mercury contamination scale [4]. Salmon also contains a significant level of the mineral selenium. Selenium is known to help the body clear out mercury and other toxins [5]. Cilantro, too, has been shown to help clear heavy metals out of the body, so adding this herb to your recipes does more for you than garnish [6].

There you have it: a perfect food to support your bones, muscles, and joints. Below are some links to our favorite serving suggestions for your new favorite non dairy calcium rich foods!

Tinned Fish Recipes and Serving Suggestions:

36 Tinned Fish Recipes – Bon Appetit

15 Ways to Use Canned Seafood, According to Chefs – Food & Wine

What to do With Tinned Fish – Modern Proper

Is Tinned Fish the New Charcuterie Board? – America’s Test Kitchen