Going Vegan is a personal choice – some do it because they are lactose intolerant, some simply because they are animal lovers and do not want any animal to suffer to feed them, and many others might have their own reasons. Notably, though the biggest negative of a vegan diet is the lack of calcium and Vitamin B12 in most plant-based foods. But vegans and lactose intolerant people can still get calcium from their diet by consuming certain high Calcium plant-based foods that are rich in this essential mineral.
While many people associate calcium primarily with dairy products, there are plenty of vegan-friendly sources available.
Why do we need Calcium in our diet?
Calcium is important for maintaining a lot of processes in our body, primarily among these are :
1 . For maintaining strong bones and teeth
2. It helps in proper muscle contractions and nerve transmission.
3. Calcium helps in proper blood clotting and wound healing
4. Optimum levels of calcium helps in hormone regulation specially thyroid , parathyroid and even Pituitary function
How much calcium do we need?
Though many countries differ in the Minimum Daily requirement f calcium of an adult, The World Health Organization advises to take at least 500 mg of calcium a day and up to 1000 mg is also fine. Children on the other hand need about 200-250 mg per day till theage of 1 yr and after that it is about 500- 700 mg per day till puberty.
As we list the foods , you can do your math to see how much of the high calcium vegan food you need to consume to meet your daily calcium requirements.
Here is our pick of 8 High Calcium Vegan foods
- These foods meet the requirement of being High calcium vegan foods:
- Leafy greens: Vegetables like kale, collard greens, bok choy, and broccoli are excellent examples of high calcium vegan foods . Surprisingly Kale has more Calcium per 100 gm than milk.
- Fortified plant-based milk: Many brands offer fortified versions of almond, soy, rice, oat, and other plant-based milks with added calcium and other nutrients.
- Soy based products: Foods like Edamame , Tofu and Tempeh that are soy-based products can be a rich source of calcium, especially if they are prepared with calcium sulfate( a food additive used during processing foods).
- Beans and lentils: Certain legumes, such as black beans and chickpeas, contain decent amounts of calcium.
- Nuts and seeds: Almonds, sesame seeds, and chia seeds are good calcium sources.
- Figs and oranges: Some fruits like figs and oranges can contribute to calcium intake.
- Calcium-fortified foods: Look for products like fortified breakfast cereals, orange juice, and plant-based yogurts that contain added calcium. These can supplement your daily need for calcium
- Calcium Absorption and Vitamin D:
- Vitamin D plays a crucial role in calcium absorption. Vegans should ensure they get enough sunlight exposure (without sunscreen) or consume vitamin D-fortified foods, such as fortified plant-based milk or vitamin D supplements if necessary.
- Balance your Diet:
- Vegans can achieve sufficient calcium intake by maintaining a well-balanced diet that includes a variety of high calcium vegan or plant based foods. Therefore a diverse selection of fruits, vegetables, grains, legumes, nuts, and seeds in every meal will help ensure adequate calcium levels.
- Have Calcium Supplements:
- While it is generally possible to obtain enough calcium through a well-planned vegan diet, some individuals may find it challenging to meet their needs solely through food. In such cases, calcium supplements can be considered, but it is essential to consult a healthcare professional before starting any supplementation.
- Cut down on Calcium Blocking foods :
- You can improve your calcium absorption by cutting down on certain foods. Some foods, especially those high in oxalates (e.g., spinach, beet greens, Swiss chard) and phytates (e.g., whole grains, nuts, seeds), can interfere with calcium absorption.However, they still offer other essential nutrients, so there’s no need to avoid them completely. Simply consuming a diverse diet with calcium-rich foods should compensate for this.
It’s important to note that calcium needs vary depending on age, sex, and life stage (e.g., pregnancy, lactation). If you have specific concerns about your calcium intake, consider consulting a registered dietitian or healthcare professional who is knowledgeable about plant-based diets to help create a balanced meal plan that meets your nutritional requirements.
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