Fostering a Gentler, Healthier and more Compassionate World for all Living Beings

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Vegan Sources of Calcium

Good plant sources of calcium include:

  • Kale (1 cup contains 180 mg)

    Collard Greens (1 cup contains over 350 mg)

    Spirulina (contains 120 mg. per 100 grams)

    Chlorella (contains 221 mg. per 100 grams)

    Moringa Powder (contains 601 mg. per 30 grams)

    Chia Seeds (contains 631 mg. per 100 grams)

    Flax Seeds (contains 255 mg. per 100 grams)


    Blackstrap Molasses (2 tablespoons contains 400 mg)


    Tempeh (1 cup contains 215 mg)

    Turnip Greens (1 cup contains 250 mg)

    Fortified non-dairy milk (1 cup contains 200-300 mg)

    Hemp milk (1 cup contains 460 mg)

    Fortified orange juice (1 cup contains 300 mg)

    Tahini (2 tablespoons contains 130 mg)

    Almond butter (2 tablespoons contains 85 mg)

    Great northern beans (1 cup contains 120 mg)

    Soybeans (1 cup contains 175 mg)

    Broccoli (1 cup contains 95 mg)

    Raw fennel (1 medium bulb contains 115 mg)

    Blackberries (1 cup contains 40 mg)

    Black Currants (1 cup contains 62 mg)

    Oranges (1 orange contains between 50 and 60 mg)

    Dried apricots (1/2 cup contains 35 mg)

    Figs (1/2 cup contains 120 mg)

    Dates (1/2 cup contains 35 mg)

    Artichoke (1 medium artichoke contains 55 mg)

    Sesame seeds (1/4 cup or 36 grams contains 351 mg)

    Adzuki beans(1 cup contains 65 mg)

    Navy beans (1 cup contains 125 mg)

    Pumpkin Seeds (contains 46 mg. per 100 grams)

    Amaranth (1 cup contains 275 mg)

    Green leafy vegetables: spring greens, parsley.
    (Spinach is not a good source of calcium. It is high in calcium, but the calcium is bound to oxalates and therefore poorly absorbed.)
     

  • Fortified non-dairy milks such as: coconut, flax, almond, macadamia nut, oat, cashew, hazelnut, soya, rice, etc.     
  • Calcium-set tofu 

Drinking hard water can provide 200mg of calcium daily, although soft water contains almost none2

Vegan Calcium Intakes

International studies measuring typical vegan intakes of calcium report that vegans generally consume about 500-940 mg daily, providing about 50-94% of recommended levels for adults to age 50 2-4 , which suggests that vegan calcium levels normally fall below the amount suggested for optimum bone health. Findings from one large prospective study confirmed this showing that vegans with calcium intakes of less than 525mg per day had a 30% higher increase for bone fractures 5 . However, the percentage of key nutrients required for adequate bone health is a complex issue as low calcium rates are not necessarily determinates for osteoporosis 6. Osteoporosis

Osteoporosis

It is estimated that more than 200 million people worldwide have osteoporosis. Several dietary recommendations include dairy products as an important part of preventing and treating this disease 7, 8; however, studies show that osteoporosis appears to be more dominant in developed countries where dairy products are plentiful and consumed more by the population 9,10. In fact, a cohort study in Sweden found that there was no risk reduction in fracture rates with milk intake, and that increased milk intake was actually associated with increased mortality.

Other Factors to Consider:

In order to adequately measure the calcium that exists in your diet, it is important to consider both the amount consumed as well as the bioavailability of calcium in specific food items. The bioavailability is determined by the amount of calcium that is actually available for absorption into the body from the food. Though dairy products are often associated with calcium in adverts and even dietary recommendations, the amount of calcium in dairy products is actually not as easily absorbed as the calcium in many dark green leafy vegetables. The bioavailability of kale, for example, is considerably higher than that from cow’s milk. In fact, a study which measured and compared the absorption of calcium from kale and cow’s milk in 11 women found that kale exhibits excellent calcium absorbability11. An exception to this positive absorption level is spinach which contains a relatively high amount of calcium; however it is bound to a substance called oxalate which hinders calcium absorption12 so it is important to obtain calcium from low-oxalate green vegetables such as collard greens, kale, and turnip greens, rocket and several others. Nonetheless, an adequate amount of calcium can be obtained from a well-planned vegan diet 13.

Calcium is a team player

Calcium is sometimes thought of as the 'bone-builder', but it should not be viewed in isolation. Other nutrients including vitamin D, vitamin K, protein and potassium play an important part in building bones. Exercise also helps to build bones. Vitamin D assists with calcium absorption so it is important to ensure a supply. Expose your face and arms to the sun for approximately 15 minutes per day. If your sun exposure is limited (for example in a British Winter), or if you are dark skinned make sure that you get 10 to 20 micrograms of vitamin D2 each day from fortified food or a supplement such as VEG1 available from The Vegan Society. Salt (sodium) causes calcium loss, so opt for low-sodium salt (e.g. Losalt) and low-sodium foods. Caffeine reduces calcium absorption so reduce your intake of caffeinated foods and drinks such as coffee and tea. Vegetables and fruit improve calcium balance so be sure to eat plenty. Protein stimulates bone building so it is important to ensure an adequate intake of protein, but avoid excesses. Moderate protein intake - about one gram of protein per kilogram of your healthy body weight per day - is probably ideal.

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