Role of Calcium in the Body’s Nutrition
Calcium is the most plentiful mineral found in the human body. The teeth and bones contain the most calcium. Nerve cells, body tissues, blood, and other body fluids contain the rest of the calcium.
Calcium is one of the most important minerals for the the human body. Calcium helps form and maintain healthy teeth and bones. Proper levels of calcium over a lifetime can help prevent osteoporosis.
Calcium helps your body with:
- Building strong bones and teeth
- Clotting blood
- Sending and receiving nerve signals
- Squeezing and relaxing muscles
- Releasing hormones and other chemicals
- Keeping a normal heartbeat
The recommended daily intake of calcium for an adult between the ages of 19 and 50 is 1,000 mg a day. (Adolescents, the elderly and pregnant women need varying amounts — check out the full guidelines here).
Calcium and a vegan diet
One of the concerns people express when they give up dairy is “how do I get calcium if I am no longer drinking milk?”. It’s impressive how well the dairy industry has marketed milk as the only dietary source of calcium! But there are many plant-based sources of calcium – and it’s not hard to reach your daily calcium needs by eating these common (and delicious!) foods – usually just 2-4 servings a day is more than enough.
To enhance absorption of calcium, you should also make sure you are getting enough vitamin D. That means 20 minutes of direct sunlight every day from May-October and a daily vitamin D supplement during winters months (November to April).
40 Vegan Sources of Calcium
Vegetables (per cup)
Bok choy (cooked) – 330 mg
Kale – 180mg
Bean sprouts – 320 mg
Spinach (cooked) – 250 mg
Collard greens (cooked) – 260 mg
Mustard greens (cooked) – 100 mg
Turnip greens (cooked) – 200 mg
Swiss chard (cooked) – 100 mg
Seaweed (Wakame) – 120mg
Okra – 130 mg
Broccoli – 45 mg
Fennel – 45 mg
Artichoke – 55 mg
Celery – 40 mg
Leeks – 55 mg
Nuts, nut butters and seeds
Almonds (1/4 cup) – 95 mg
Brazil nuts (1/4 cup) – 55 mg
Hazelnuts (1/4 cup) – 55 mg
Almond butter (1 tbsp) – 43 mg
Sesame seeds (1 tbsp) – 63 mg
Tahini (1 tbsp) – 65 mg
Cereals (calcium fortified, ½ cup) – 250 to 500 mg
Amaranth (cooked, ½ cup) – 135 mg
Brown rice (cooked, 1 cup) – 50 mg
Quinoa (cooked, 1 cup) – 80 mg
Legumes and beans
Chickpeas (cooked, 1 cup) – 80 mg
Pinto beans (cooked, 1 cup) – 75 mg
Soy beans (cooked, 1 cup) – 200 mg
Tofu (soft or firm, 4 oz) – 120 – 400mg
Tempeh (1 cup) – 150 mg
Navy beans (1 cup) – 110 mg
White beans (cooked, 1 cup) – 140 mg
Fruit (per cup)
Figs (dried) – 300 mg
Apricots (dried) – 75mg
Kiwi – 60mg
Rhubarb (cooked) – 350 mg
Orange – 70 mg
Prunes – 75 mg
Blackberries – 40 mg
Blackstrap molasses (1 tbsp) – 135 mg
Now that you’re armed with knowledge about the bone-boosting calcium in your favorite food, try these
Quick and easy ways to create scrumptious snacks and meals using plant-based, calcium-rich foods:
1. Pour some calcium-enriched soy milk or nut milk on breakfast granola, and sprinkle some raisins on top.
2. Add kale, collard greens, or mustard greens to salads. Chop up a few dried figs and toss them in to add calcium-packed sweetness.
3. Use kale or collard greens on sandwiches instead of lettuce.
4. Add a few tablespoons of silken tofu to a fruit smoothie.
5. Add beans to salads, mash them on toast, or add them to your vegetable soup.
Try the following recipes for a calcium kick: