Vegans are often asked, ‘Where do you get your protein and iron’. The next question they are usually asked is:
How do you get calcium on a vegan diet?
We can blame the dairy industry for brainwashing us into thinking that we will all suffer from osteoporosis and poor bone health if we don’t get calcium from dairy (read more here about why dairy should be avoided)
Why do we need calcium?
Calcium is needed for strong bones, teeth and nails as well as nerve and muscle function and blood clotting. When dietary intake of calcium is low, calcium leeches out of the bones so that it can be used for vital functions within the body. However, if we have too much calcium we can actually develop health problems such as kidney stones and heart disease.
Doctors especially are very misinformed in this area, and tend to panic when you mention that you don’t consume dairy products.
How much calcium do we need?
Adults need approximately 1000-1200mg calcium per day. Growing teenagers may need slightly more at 1300mg per day.
But don’t panic ! Here are my top foods to ensure that you get your daily intake of calcium from a wide variety of different sources:
|Food||Serving||Amount of Calcium (mg)|
|Hemp Milk||1 cup||460|
|Black Strap Molasses||2 tablespoons||400|
|Collard Greens||1 cup||357|
|Fortified Orange Juice||1 cup||300|
|Plant Based Milk (Fortified)||1 cup||200-300|
|Chia Seeds||1 serving (30g)||200|
|Figs||½ cup (about 6-8)||120|
|Butternut Squash||1 cup||84|
Are you still worried about getting enough calcium per day ? Here are my top tips:
1. Add greens to your almond milk smoothie
2. Add chia seeds to your smoothie, cereal bliss balls, snacks etc
3. Add tahini to salad dressings
4. Have a tempeh stir fry for dinner with lots of different veggies (Learn more about tempeh here)
5. Include a variety of fruit and veg in your day. One orange contains about 65mg calcium.
6. Snack on figs instead of dates. They contain 4 times as much calcium and are lower in sugar
7. Mix up your grains. Use amaranth instead of rice sometimes. 1 cup contains 116mg calcium
Don’t forget, research shows that Vitamin D, Vitamin B12, Vitamin K, Potassium, Phosphorus and Magnesium are just as important for bone health. So don’t forget to get out safely in the sun, get your greens in daily and eat a well-balanced plant based diet to protect your bones as you get older.