How to Get Calcium on a Vegan Diet
We now know that a plant-based, vegan diet is the healthiest diet on Earth! A plant-focused diet is the only one that has been proven to reverse many of the diseases that humans suffer from. Unfortunately, some people are still hesitant to give veganism a try, because sometimes people think they can't get all the essential nutrients their body needs, such as calcium, without consuming animal-based meat and dairy products.
This is exactly what the meat and dairy industry have always told us, and would like us to believe. However, this could not be further from the truth. In reality, there are many plant-based foods that are rich in calcium and are comprehensive sources of all our required nutrients as well. If one of the topmost questions in your mind right now is "how to get calcium while on a vegan diet?" then you've come to the right place.
What is calcium?
Calcium helps build and maintain strong bones. It's also an essential mineral for nerve transmission, muscle contraction, blood pressure regulation, and blood clotting. Calcium deficiency often leads to a condition called osteomalacia or osteoporosis in older adults and rickets in young children. Needless to say, we can't live without it.
So, how do most of us get our calcium?
The most common sources of calcium are animal-based cheese, milk, yogurt, and other dairy products. However, many people don’t realize that they also currently get calcium from plant foods like dark green leafy vegetables, soy products like soy milk and tofu, nuts, seeds, and legumes like beans!
When you first make the plant-based change, you should definitely research how to get calcium as a vegan so that you can assure yourself you’re consuming exactly what you need! There are so many calcium-rich plant-based alternatives to animal products that you can add to your diet.
Where can you get calcium on a vegan diet?
One of the best ways on how to get calcium without milk from cows or other dairy products is to add more plant-based food sources that are rich in this mineral. Here are just some great options you should add to your grocery list.
Almonds and other nuts
Among all nuts, almonds contain the richest amount of calcium with 97 mg per quarter cup, which is approximately 10% of the Recommended Daily Intake (RDI) for calcium. Brazil nuts are the second richest source of calcium after almonds, providing about 6% of the RDI per quarter cup. Pistachios, macadamia nuts, and walnuts provide around 2 to 3% of the RDI for the same quantity.
You can also find plant-based milks made from almonds and other calcium-rich nuts to fulfill your daily requirements.
Many calcium-rich fruits can help provide you with this essential mineral along with many other health-promoting nutrients - and they’re delicious! These include apricots, kiwi, oranges, berries, litchi, pineapples, and papaya, among many others.
Green leafy vegetables
Another good option for how to get calcium from plant foods is to load up on cruciferous vegetables and dark leafy greens, such as spinach, kale, mustard, bok choy, turnip, Brussel sprouts, broccoli, and cabbage. The leading plant-based professionals recommend getting as many servings of nutrient-dense green leafy vegetables as possible every day.
There is a reason why tofu and other soy-based foods are a staple in many plant-based diets. This is because soybeans are a naturally rich source of calcium and other important nutrients. Did you know you can get 18.5% of the RDI with a single cup of cooked soybeans.
Tofu has 350 mg of calcium per 100 grams. Foods made from fermented soybeans, such as tempeh and natto, are also a good source of calcium. Soy milk is a great option that you can add to oatmeal or cereal for breakfast.
Seeds and seed butters (similar to nut butters) are another good vegan source of calcium. Tahini (a type of seed butter made from ground sesame seeds) contains the most calcium with 130 mg per 2 tablespoons or 13% of the RDI.
Other seeds, such as chia and flax seeds, contain decent amounts of calcium, providing 5 to 6% of the RDI per 20 to 25 grams. A tablespoon or two every day will ensure you get all that you need!
Beans and lentils
Aside from calcium, beans and lentils also contain many other nutrients and minerals, such as protein, zinc, iron, potassium, folate, and magnesium. Legumes should be eaten every day to encourage a healthy gut microbiome, and are easy to incorporate in many dishes, like vegetable stew, chili, soup, beans and rice, burritos, and don’t forget hummus!
These calcium-rich foods are whole-food, plant-based vegan alternatives that are awesome additions to your diet. There are many vegan recipes you can find online using these ingredients, so you will never run out of meal ideas! The coolest part about trying new foods is experimenting with new recipes, dishes, and ways of cooking things that we never thought to before!