How Do Vegans Get Enough Calcium on a Plant-Based Diet?

How Do Vegans Get Enough Calcium on a Plant-Based Diet?

Calcium is one of the most indispensable minerals for your body.

After all, it helps with blood clotting, muscle contractions, regulating nerve functions and normal heart rhythm, and most importantly, keeps your teeth and bones healthy (preventing osteoporosis).

However, the most abundant sources of calcium are milk, cheese, and other dairy products, which are a big no-no for vegans.

So, how do vegans get the calcium their body needs to perform the functions mentioned above on a plant-based diet?

Well, that’s what the blog is all about.

This blog lists the seven most reliable plant-based or vegan sources of calcium that vegans use to get the calcium they need.

You can cycle through the list, choose the best calcium-rich foods & include them in your diet, and meet all your calcium needs while being vegan.

How Much Calcium do you Need Each Day?

While the precise daily requirement of calcium varies with age, adults are generally recommended to consume 1000 mg of calcium daily.

Some sources even state that consuming 1200 mg is fine, but the same amount mustn’t be consumed daily, even if you’re diagnosed with osteoporosis.

Point to Note: Always consume calcium in small amounts, i.e., less than 500 mg at a time.

If you want to consume 1000 mg daily, consume calcium-rich foods 3-4 (350 or 250 mg at a time) times a day.

It’s because consuming too much calcium at a time might reduce mineral absorption, i.e., your body won’t be effectively able to absorb calcium from the foods.  

What’s more, try to stay well within your reference daily intake for calcium, i.e., 1000 mg.

It’s because exceeding this limit leads to gastrointestinal side effects such as bloating, constipation, abdominal pain, and severe diarrhea and even increases the risk of kidney stones.

Top 7 Plant-Based Foods to Help you Meet your Calcium Needs

1.    Collard Greens

Collard greens are a great source of calcium. A 100-gram serving of collard greens offers you around 232 mg of calcium, which is more than what 100 grams of milk offer you(125mgs.) So, a 100-gram serving of collard seeds will offer you more than 20% of an adult’s DV.

What’s more, collard greens aren’t limited to calcium. They’re also a good source of iron, vitamins K & A, and fiber. So, including them in your daily diet would benefit your entire body.

How do vegans get calcium from collard greens?

Well, there are so many things you can do to get your dose of calcium from collard greens. You can sauté your collard greens and consume them as a side dish or put them in burritos, wraps, or sandwiches. You can even blend the collard greens into a tasty smoothie by adding some more ingredients of your choice.

2.    Certain Nuts

Almost all nuts, including peanuts, hazelnuts, macadamia, and Brazil nuts, contain small amounts of calcium. However, almonds are a particularly rich source. 100 gram serving of almonds offers you 269 mg of calcium which is almost 27% of the RDI for an adult.

Apart from offering you calcium, nuts are also a good source of protein, healthy fats, fiber, antioxidants, minerals such as magnesium, selenium, copper, potassium, and vitamins K and E. Consuming nuts regularly can help you reduce the risk of metabolic issues and protect you from heart issues.

How do vegans get calcium from nuts?

A tasty way to consume nuts is by roasting them. For instance, you can roast some almonds, add some salt and sprinkle them on soy yogurt. Another healthier way of consuming nuts is soaking them raw overnight. Once soaked, you can place them in a dehydrator that’ll help you break down phytic acid (which inhibits nutrient absorption). This way, you can absorb the nutrients to the fullest.

3.    Certain Seeds

Several seeds and their butter offer you a good calcium content. However, how much calcium they contain depends on the type of seed.

For instance, 100 grams of chia seeds contain 631 mg of calcium (63.1% of RDI), and 100 grams of flaxseed contain 255 mg of calcium (25.5% of RDI.) The best answer to how do vegans get calcium is that 100 grams of sesame seeds offer you around 975 mg of calcium, which is almost all the calcium you need for the day. Crazy, right?

Like nuts, seeds also offer you protein, vitamins, minerals, healthy fats, and other nutrients your body needs. Regular intake of seeds can help you reduce the risk of heart issues, inflammation, and even blood sugar.

How do vegans get calcium from seeds?

Sesame seeds containing the highest amount of calcium can be eaten raw. Or you can bake or toast them to bring out their nutty flavor. Sesame seeds are a common topping on burger buns, bagels, salads, etc. You can even use tahini (sesame seeds butter) and spread it on bread.

4.    Soy Food

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Soy foods are yet another great source of calcium. A cup of cooked soybean (around 175 grams) offers you 185 mg of calcium. And a cup of edamame (immature soybean) offers you around 276 mg or 27.6% of the RDI.

Also, minimally processed foods made from soybeans such as natto, tempeh, tofu, and soy milk are good sources of calcium. In addition to calcium, soy foods offer you vegan protein, minerals, vitamins, and even fiber.

How do vegans get calcium from soy foods?

As far as tofu and soy milk are concerned, you can purchase them right off the market and consume them raw. They taste really good. And soy milk is a good replacement for dairy milk. For soybeans, you can soak them in water and then roast them until brown, and for edamame, you can eat it raw after removing the seeds from the pod.

5.    Spinach

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Spinach is another leafy green similar to collard greens that are rich in calcium. A 100-gram serving of spinach packs around 99 mg of calcium. However, along with calcium, spinach also offers you considerable amounts of zinc, copper, magnesium, sodium, potassium, and protein.

How do vegans get calcium from spinach?

To get calcium from spinach, you can simply blend it into shakes or smoothies. However, cooking under high temperatures helps break down oxalic acid, which inhibits calcium and iron absorption. So, if you cook spinach, you can expect to absorb more calcium and other nutrients.

6.    Blackstrap Molasses

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Yet another not-so-common source of calcium for vegans is blackstrap molasses. It’s a dark syrup that is produced after sugarcane juice has been boiled three times. This triple boiling process makes it nutrient-concentrated and thus more beneficial.

A 100-gram serving of blackstrap molasses offers around 205 mg of calcium along with other nutrients such as manganese, magnesium, iron, selenium, vitamin B6, etc.  

How do vegans get calcium from blackstrap molasses?

The blackstrap molasses syrup itself is pretty vicious and bitter in taste, making it hard to consume by a spoonful. So, to include it in your diet, add it to sauces, baked goods, or even smoothies. This way, its flavor won’t hurt you.

Note. While blackstrap molasses offers calcium and other nutrients, the syrup is really high in sugar. Therefore, consume it in moderation.

7.    Fortified Foods

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Fortified foods, aka enriched foods, are foods with extra nutrients added to them that don’t occur naturally or in low quantities. For instance, 100 grams of orange contains just 40 mg of calcium. However, 100 grams of orange juice fortified with calcium has around 350 mg of calcium.

Foods such as fruit juices, soy milk, breakfast cereals, salts, etc., are fortified with nutrients such as vitamins A, B6, B12, D, E and iron, iodine, and calcium. So, you can expect to consume lots of nutrients together, which means more benefits.

How do vegans get calcium from fortified foods?

Including fortified foods in your diet is simple. You can add fortified cereals to your fortified soy milk to get your morning dose of calcium. You can also buy fortified fruit juices and consume them whenever you like.

Please Note. Fortified foods usually contain high amounts of nutrients. And it’s quite easy to overconsume the nutrients you need for the day. So, read the nutrient content and consume the food carefully, ensuring adequate nutrient intake.

Wrapping Up

Being vegan isn’t easy. You have to make several sacrifices and always be on the lookout for substitutes for your favorite and nutrient-rich foods just to stay vegan. However, fortunately, you can get all the substitutes and nutrients you used to get from a non-vegan diet from a completely plant-based diet. All you need to do is, look harder.

Now that you know how do vegans get calcium, it’s time to finally start including some or all of the above-mentioned food sources in your daily diet. And if you want to find out how do vegans get protein, vitamin B12, or iron, you can check out these blogs (we can internally link these blogs, which is good for SEO).

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