Stand Aside Bessy, there's a new "Big Cheese" in Town
Another nutrient, other than protein, that those new to the vegan/plant-base lifestyle often worry about is calcium. If you don't eat dairy products such as milk and cheese, how on earth do you get your calcium intake?😲 Well as you read further down, you'll see that you don't need dairy items like cheese, milk, yogurt to get calcium.😉
What is calcium?
Calcium is a very important mineral that our bodies need to stay healthy and strong. It is the most abundant mineral in our bodies. 99% is stored in our bones and teeth. The other 1% can be found in muscles, tissues and blood.
Why is calcium important to our bodies?
Calcium builds healthy bones and teeth and ensures your muscles, cells, and nerves work properly. It’s also good for regulating the alkaline/acid balance in our bodies.
How much calcium do you need?
The amount of calcium you need is dependent on your age and gender.
According to the Office of Dietary Supplements (ODS), people need the following amounts of calcium:
0–6 months: 200 milligrams (mg)
7–12 months: 260 mg
1–3 years: 700 mg
4–8 years: 1,000 mg
9–18 years: 1,300 mg
19–50 years: 1,000 mg
51–70 years: 1,000 mg for males and 1,200 mg for females
71 years and above: 1,200 mg
Pregnant and breastfeeding women require 1,000–1,300 mg depending on age.
Too little calcium can cause weakening and thinning of the bones, tingling and numbness sensations in body parts like the feet and hands, memory loss, muscle spasms, and depression.
On the other hand, very high levels of calcium can lead to: kidney problems, calcification of soft tissues and blood vessels, kidney stones and constipation to name a few.
What about calcium absorption?
One of the big issues with calcium is not the source, but the matter of your body absorbing the calcium (in many cases plant-based sources are more easily absorbed than dairy sources). Both oxalic acid (in some vegetables and beans) and phytic acid (in whole grains) can reduce calcium absorption. People who eat a variety of foods don’t have to consider these factors. They are accounted for in the calcium recommended intakes, which take absorption into account.
Foods rich in magnesium help the absorption of calcium. Vitamin D is also good for helping with calcium absorption.
Try to reduce the amount of salt and caffeine in your diet as foods/drinks with these can lead to calcium loss.
Foods with calcium?
There are lots of non-dairy foods with calcium. Here are a few of them.
Collard Greens: 268mg/1 cup
Broccoli: 86 mg /2 cups raw
Broccoli rabe (pronounced “rob”): 100mg/2/3 cup
Kale: 100 mg/1 cup raw, chopped
Edamame: 98 mg/1 cup cooked
Bok Choy: 74 mg/1 cup shredded
Figs: 121 mg/1/2 cup dried
Oranges: 74 mg/1 large orange
White Beans: 63 mg/1/2 cup
Okra: 82 mg/1 cup
Tofu: 434 mg/1/2 cup
Almonds: 75 mg/1 ounce (about 23 almonds)
Molasses: 172mg/1 tbsp
Don’t forget sesame seeds, chia seeds, chickpeas, as well.
Just sayin’ is all.
DISCLAIMER: None of the information in this document is a substitute or replacement for information that should be obtained by your medical practitioner and/or registered nutritionist. Please contact these persons for answers to your health and nutritional questions.