What is Calcium

Calcium is a very important tool for building up a strong body. We all know that calcium affects our bone health and it makes for good strong teeth. It has several other important aspects to it as well, such as improving our nervous system, muscles, clotting blood, and even our improving the rhythm of our heart.

It is especially important as we grow older, as our body absorbs less calcium from our diet naturally. Alongside calcium, vitamin D is also beneficial, as it assists your body and its absorption of calcium.

Bone Health   

As much as 99% of the calcium in your body is stored in your bones. During adolescence calcium is a vital mineral to obtain as your body is constantly growing. This will ensure that your bones say nice and healthy. In fact, it’s estimated that nearly 40% of bone development takes place during the teenage years alone.

After adolescence, our bone strength remains pretty consistent until about age 40. That’s when you’re more likely to be diagnosed with something like osteoporosis.

Note: Women generally begin to have issues with osteoporosis at an earlier age than men, but it is still very important to make sure that we all get our proper calcium levels.

The process involved here is called bone remodeling, wherein your body is taking old calcium and replacing it with new calcium.

Why We Don’t Need Animal Products to Get Calcium

Contrary to popular belief, vegans can definitely get enough calcium to survive.

We all know the old advertisements saying that “cow’s milk is the only way to stay healthy,” and that if we don’t regularly consume it eventually our bones will deteriorate.

This is simply not true, there are plenty of vegans that have been perfectly fine with their bones after years of this “Extreme diet.”

In fact, though it is stereotypical to assume that vegans don’t get enough calcium, there is actually a national trend of calcium deficiency.

We could discuss this all day, but the calcium that is found in leafy greens is more readily and easier absorbed by the body than the calcium found in cow’s milk. I wonder if that’s because that cow’s milk was not intended for humans…

In fact, the dairy industry has massive advertising campaigns to make us believe that cow’s milk is the only source of calcium.

There are different reasons why people think of veganism could promote better bone health. For example, it is been suggested that eating a diet that is more alkaline is beneficial for bone health as well. So eating an acidic unhealthy diet can actually cause bone resorption (loss of calcium from the bones.)

In my humble opinion, the main reason people think that vegans don’t get enough calcium is not enough people are educated in vegan dietetics. Vegans can absolutely get enough calcium, I would know because I’ve been vegan for quite some time and still have good calcium levels and I’ve never broken a bone in my life.

Why is this?

Before I do anything, especially with anything including my diet, I research every aspect of that topic as far as I can.  I believe they’re not enough people understand where good sources of calcium come from, and I found a lot of people really don’t care that much.

Another thing to consider is that there are certain compounds, oxolates, which could actually block the absorption of calcium. It’s the same concept as what phytates do, they block the absorption of iron and other key nutrients. So if you’re a vegan, even though you may ingest these nutrients and minerals, you may be also ingesting things that make it harder for your body to absorb them.

You must take things like these into consideration before making any major diet changes. We have been through different periods of pretty serious diet changes. They have all been extremely successful for our house, but we would never change before doing as much research as we can.  That is exactly how people get led to deficiency, and that is exactly how people end up being sick even if they feel their diet should be adequate.


What Does Calcium Deficiency Cause?

There are many diverse signs of low calcium levels, also called hypocalcemia.

The most serious of these are:

Muscle Problems

Nail and Skin Issues

Osteopenia

Osteoporosis

Severe PMS

Dental Issues

Depression

Extreme Fatigue

So obviously this is a mineral that we want to be sure we’re getting plenty of.

Calcium deficiency can also be indicative of other deficiencies, such as vitamin D or magnesium. These pose their own health risks, so as always we must ensure our diet is providing all of the vitamins and nutrients that we need.

Vegan Sources of Calcium

Daily Recommended intake: 1,000 mg per day for most adults, 1,200+ for those over 50 years old.


Leafy Greens

As I’ve said in my other articles regarding vegan nutrition, leafy greens are literally never a bad choice. There are a plethora of vitamins and nutrients that are in leafy greens that we need to be absorbing daily.

Calcium is just one of them, and leafy greens happen to have a whole lot of it.

Leafy greens that are high in calcium:

Collard Greens 268 mg per cooked cup (21% DV)

Spinach 245 mg per cooked cup (19% DV)

Turnip Greens197mg per cooked cup (15% DV)

Kale 172mg per cooked sup (13% DV)

Mustard Greens165mg per cooked cup (13% DV)

Beet Greens164 mg per cooked cup (13% DV)

So as you can see, there is plenty of calcium to be had with leafy greens alone. If you are able to work these into every meal not only will you have a good chance of getting your calcium intake, but many other vitamins and nutrients as well.

As I mentioned, you must ensure that other areas of your diet align with these goals. You could eat nothing but salads full of these greens, but if the rest of your diet is working against you, you will still struggle.

Beans

Beans, or legumes, are another great source of calcium. They are also a family of foods which is highly versatile.

These would include:

Black Beans

Lima Beans

Garbanzo Beans

White Beans

Lentils

In general, you are getting around 150 – 250 mg per cup of beans. Since these could be combined with leafy greens, you can make great calcium-rich vegan combinations.

Sesame Seeds

Sesame seeds are a less commonly discussed source of calcium. I had almost never used them, that is until I discovered this.

The best part?

If you have kids it is a great nutrition ninja. How will they know that these little seeds are packed with nutrients?

If you have never used these before, Here are two great pages full of ideas!

Healthy Sesame Seed Recipes

Sesame Seeds: Health Benefits, Tips, and Recipes

Seaweed

Seaweed?

Who the hell eats seaweed?

Vegans who care about there health, because seaweed is another great source of plant-based nutrients.

In fact, sea vegetables are one of the main sources of iodine in a vegan diet.

Here are some of the nutrients that seaweed contains lots of:

Carbs

Protein

Riboflavin

Thiamine

Iron

Potassium

And of course, Calcium

If you don’t have any recipes that involved seaweed, you’re not alone. Who does? Other than dedicated vegans, most people don’t really use seaweed on a regular basis.

But it’s ok, we got you covered.

Seaweed Decoded: Why It’s Essential on a Vegan Diet

30 Surprisingly Delicious Algae & Vegan Seaweed Recipes

Blackstrap Molasses

This is another source of calcium that I wouldn’t have expected before I went vegan.

Blackstrap Molasses is high in:

Calcium

Magnesium

Vitamin B

Potassium

Manganese

Blackstrap Molasses also contains quite a bit of sugar, so be cautious if you’re on a low sugar diet.

We have actually used this as a last resort sweetener for our bulletproof coffee.

Vegan Milk

There are literally tons of vegan milk alternatives that you could drink to get calcium. Not only do they taste great, but they’re packed with tons of nutrients. In fact, vegan milk alternatives are much healthier than their mammalian milk counterparts.

There is a wide variety to choose from, including;

Almond Milk

Oat Milk

Coconut Milk

Hemp Milk

Soy Milk

Rice Milk

Cashew Milk

Flax Milk

Hazelnut Milk

Pea Milk

We have tried all of these and love them all. Our personal favorite is cashew milk because it has a nice thick, sweet, and creamy texture and taste to it.

These milks all have different flavor and nutrition profiles, but they are all a great source of calcium.

Note: It is recommended to find milk with at least 250 mg of calcium per serving.

Fortified Cereals

There are several vegan cereals that are great sources of calcium.

It is also easy to integrate these into your diet, because cereal and granola can be mixed with other foods. Obviously, a cereal fortified with calcium and vegan milk will offer tons of calcium per bowl you eat.

Fortified Vegan Meat Substitutes

Tofu isn’t the first thing that someone might consider when thinking of a tasty meal.

However, there are tons of ways to make delicious vegan tofu meals. We recently purchased an air fryer, which has opened us up to tons of amazing tofu recipes. For example, our Vegan Chicken Nuggets.

It may not be the easiest food to work with, and if you mess up tofu you’ll end up never wanting to touch it again.

Trust me, I think we’ve all been there.

Once you master cooking with tofu, you will open yourself up to a ton of vitamins and nutrients.

½ cup of tofu contains:

Polyunsaturated fat – 3g

Monounsaturated fat – 1g

Potassium – 150mg

Carbs – 2g

Protein – 10g

Calcium – 43% of daily requirement

Iron – 36% daily requirement

Vitamin B-6 – 5% daily requirement

Magnesium – 9% daily requirement

All from only half a cup!

Conclusion

There are plenty of vegan sources of calcium!

You just gotta get eating!

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