Calcium makes a significant contribution to your body.
It’s recommended that you should avoid calcium deficiency as it is a key to supporting strong bones and a healthful immune system.
Yet, a large number of vegans don’t meet these requirements. So how do I get enough calcium as a vegan? Vegans are people who don’t eat animal products as well as dairy — although a lot of plant foods have this mineral.
How do you get calcium as a vegan
Here is the list of top 5 plant-based sources of calcium for vegans are:
- Fortified plant milks
- Calcium set tofu
- Low-oxalate leafy greens
- Beans, nuts and seeds (soaked)
- Calcium fortified juices
#1. Fortified plant milks
Similar to cow’s milk, highly absorbable calcium in fortified plant milk contains a huge quantity per serving. Then, it’s one of the greatest choices of vegan calcium. Never forget to shake well before drinking as calcium stays at the bottom of the container.
For example, 1 cup (240 ml) of fortified plant-based milk (almost all types of plant milk), generally offers roughly 30% of the RDI — equivalent to 300 mg of calcium mineral.
Furthermore, soy milk is an ideal alternative to cow’s milk. It results from the fact that soy milk seems to have the same amount of protein — or 7 grams per cup (240 ml). Just notice that not every plant-based milks is fortified, so check the label carefully before purchasing.
#2. Calcium set tofu
Set tofu is another suggestion for a good source of calcium to vegans.
You can see the package to find out the quantity of calcium per serving since there are many brands that make set tofu with their own calcium content.
The calcium source seems especially highly absorbed at the same level of cow’s milk.
#3. Low oxalate leafy greens
It is generally known that eating leafy greens is critical for every vegan. Low oxalate leafy greens offer an abundant source of calcium and a lot of other essential nutrients.
The following is the list of leafy greens which are low in oxalate level: Bok choy, Kale, Mustard greens, Turnip greens, Watercress, Broccoli, Romaine lettuce, Brussels sprouts, and Collard greens
#4. Beans, seeds and nuts
Beans, seeds and nuts offer a smaller quantity of calcium. They aren’t also absorbed as greatly as the vegan calcium suggestions above.
Yet, these sources of food have a good amount of other nutrients and may offer additional vegan calcium to help meet overall daily calcium requirements. Soaked beans, seeds and nuts (or sprouting them) can encourage calcium absorption.
#5. Calcium fortified juices
There are a number of juices fortified with calcium. If you like juices, buying fortified juices could be a good option to boost your vegan calcium intake.
Juice settles on the bottom of the list because, though the calcium is absorbed as greatly as cow’s milk, juice seems higher in sugar quantity. It’s probably best to not drink too many servings.
Good calcium supplements for a vegan
Calcium supplements are not necessary as the vegan diet has an adequate calcium content from nutritious plant-based food. Yet, there are still some who have difficulties in meeting the demand for daily calcium intake. If that is the case, a calcium supplement for a vegan to fulfill the gap would be useful.
However, a number of people are worried about the risk of calcium supplements. Some research proposes that you should not rely on just these supplements to meet the calcium recommended levels.
Taking the right dose of calcium supplements does not appear to be detrimental and can even better a vegan diet that is lacking calcium. Keep in mind to meet the doctor before doing any supplement purchase. Never forget that more nutritious content is not always better for your health, including calcium.
What is calcium?
Calcium is a crucial nutrient. It is highly important in many functions of the body. Normally, people get calcium intake by drinking dairy milk. That explains the reason why calcium intake is a matter for most vegans.
However, a big percentage of people don’t realise that other foods (besides dairy milk) are also ideal sources of this mineral.
Once a person transitions to a vegan diet and stops drinking dairy milk, calcium intake is likely to drop greatly. As such vast amounts of calcium are necessary for good health, it is possible to not absorb an adequate amount as a vegan.
The function of calcium in the body
An adequate intake of calcium is likely to be equivalent with the health of bones. The key role of calcium minerals is to build up the structural component of both bones and teeth.
During your life, it’s necessary to get a sufficient amount of calcium to ensure appropriate bone health. You should notice that there are other nutrients that also impact bone health aside from calcium, but calcium is a crucial nutrient.
Most calcium minerals in the body are identified in bones and teeth (about 99%). The remaining 1% is located in the blood. Especially, the amount of calcium in the blood is significantly regulated (equivalent to the body ensuring that there is always not too much or too little calcium content in the blood).
Calcium in the body supports muscles to contract, encouraging the whole body to move. It also makes a significant contribution to allow the heart muscle to activate. In other words, thanks to calcium, the heart can beat and pump blood throughout the whole body.
Daily calcium intake requirements
Here is the current suggestion for calcium intakes for people from Health Canada.
In the female group, women who age from 19 to 50 should get 1000 mg per day, and women who age above 50 should get 1200 mg per day. In the male group, men from 19 to 70 years olds should consume 1000 mg per day, and men above 70 years old should consume 1200 mg per day.
The old (and even outdated) nutrition instructions recommend three servings of dairy products everyday to meet these demands. Not only does cow’s milk have a lot of calcium but also these other sources regularly contain a reasonable content of this mineral.
However, as the calcium amount of plant-based foods is much fewer than that of dairy milk, it is possibly difficult for a vegan to absorb these vast amounts of calcium. Therefore, many vegans wonder whether they should meet these standards of calcium intake.
Recently, a number of studies support a demand for every vegan to consume the amount of calcium mineral and until further investigations are implemented. It’s commonly recommended for most vegans to consume adequate content of calcium to avoid potential harm for bone health.
There are also some cases of getting too much calcium. It doesn’t regularly happen in diet only, but can occur if some people take a calcium supplement (such as multivitamins including calcium).
The upper limit in which negative impacts have been found to appear is 2500 mg for males under 70 and females under 50. The other upper limit is 2000 mg for males over 70 and females over 50.
Calcium deficiency in vegans
Normally, people own a large reservoir of calcium mineral available to them (in the bones actually). Then serious calcium deficiency isn’t considered a general concern for adults with good health.
If the level of blood calcium is under permission, the body would be able to take calcium from the bones. It aims to compensate for the deficit and maintain important body functions operating correctly.
Occasionally, once people are sick, calcium content in the blood may drop, and it can trigger problems. There are also other causes why calcium content could be in low levels. If you get a blood test result showing the low level of calcium, have a meeting with the doctor immediately.
Ideas about calcium deficiency are likely to be long-term consequences with the health of bones. If people consume a low calcium intake from the diet, over time the body would continue to extract calcium from the bones.
This phenomenon can cause the bones to soften, also known as osteomalacia and finally porous bones or osteoporosis. In fact, the bones are not dense or strong enough but they would have “holes” on them.
Not only osteomalacia but also osteoporosis doesn’t occur overnight. They are also not commonly linked with any early indicator sign or symptom. Not until a lot of people have their bones broken, they aren’t diagnosed with osteoporosis disease.
It is the reason why it’s critical to make sure you should often meet calcium intake recommendations. Although you may not know some physical differences in your body everyday, you are certainly helping to create good bone health in the long-term.
Conclusion: calcium for a vegan
Calcium is a critical mineral throughout our life. Every vegans needs to get an adequate intake of calcium.
Although cow’s milk contains high levels of calcium, vegans can consume enough calcium from good plant-based sources.
However, it would be even better for most vegans to take the test of health to ensure whether you are on a balanced diet.