vegan calcium sources

Calcium helps create and develop bones and teeth, plays a significant role in muscle contraction (including the heart), regulates blood pressure, and prevents bone-weakening effects such as osteoporosis. Consuming the recommended daily dose of calcium is essential. However, the absorption of this mineral from plant-based foods is lower than from animal-based sources. This lower absorption is because of the oxalic acid contained in plant-based sources. Therefore, those following a vegan diet must ensure they consume the required amounts of calcium. In this article, you can learn about the best vegan calcium sources to help you maintain good health.

How much calcium does our body require?

The required daily dose of calcium depends on a person’s age:

  • 350 mg for children of 1-3 years;
  • 450 mg for kids aged between 4 and 6 years;
  • 550 mg for children of 7-10 years;
  • 800-1,000 mg for teenagers between 11 and 18 years old; 
  • 1,000 mg for adults.

 

What are the main vegan calcium sources available?

Calcium can be obtained from several vegan sources such as calcium-fortified foods and drinks, milk alternatives, green leafy vegetablesfresh and dried fruits, beans, peas and lentils, seaweed, several seeds and nuts, certain types of bread, dried herbsedamame (soy-based foods), certain grainsblackstrap molasses.

Calcium-fortified foods and drinks

These are foods and drinks to which calcium has been added during the manufacturing process.

Flour and cornmeal, used for baking bread or crackers, represent an example of vegan foods high in calcium. As for fortified drinks, orange juice and plant-based milk have also “made it” to the list.

Calcium-fortified plant-based milk such as unsweetened almond milk provides 240 mg of calcium, the same amount as coconut milk, soy and oat milk.

Each 125 g portion of plant-based, calcium-fortified yoghurt alternatives such as coconut yoghurt and plain soy yoghurt contain 150 mg of calcium. They are delicious snacks that you can enjoy anytime.

Green leafy vegetables

Cruciferous vegetables and leafy green vegetables are rich in calcium.

Kale and spinach have the highest calcium content (185 mg respectively 120 mg), followed by turnip greens, okra, mustard and spring greens, pak choi, Swiss Chard and broccoli. All these greens contain a nutrient called oxalate or oxalic acid. This compound attaches to minerals to create other minerals, and that is, for example, how calcium oxalate is generated. Oxalate can make the minerals they attach to more difficult to absorb, and to reduce its levels, boiling the vegetables that contain calcium is recommended.

Fresh and dried fruits

Fresh fruits are among the healthiest foods you can consume, as they are packed with beneficial nutrients. Calcium is available in fruits such as blackberries and kiwifruit, which contain 26 mg of calcium each per 80 g portion and in tangerines and oranges, apples and pears. Blackcurrants are the champions of fresh fruits calcium holders with 65 mg per 110 g serving.

Dried fruits are also a good source of calcium. Per 100 g serving, figs provide 162 mg of calcium, prunes – 43 mg of calcium, with dates and raisins also carrying a fair amount of calcium.

vegan calcium beans lentils

Seaweed

Seaweed helps increase calcium intake and is a delicious addition to salads and dishes. However, some seaweed, such as kelp, contain iodine, which can negatively impact health when consumed in large amounts.

Beans, peas and lentils

Beans, peas and lentils are among the most delicious vegan calcium sources, and they are packed with iron, zinc, fibre, magnesium, potassium and other nutrients. 

With 66 mg of calcium per 80 g serving of soya beans and 38 mg of calcium per 80 g of chickpeas, these foods, alongside kidney beans, broad beans, lentils and black-eyed beans, can be enjoyed in many recipes. However, they may contain anti-nutrients such as lectins and phytates, decreasing the body’s ability to absorb other nutrients. Soaking and fermenting reduce the levels of anti-nutrients. Taking the time to soak beans and lentils is totally worth it: beans, peas and lentils have substantial positive benefits on health, such as reduced LDL cholesterol.

Certain nuts and seeds

Rich in protein, antioxidants, healthy fats, selenium, vitamins B, E and K, potassium, copper and fibre, certain seeds help regulate body weight, decrease blood pressure, regulate blood sugar levels, decrease risks for heart disease, type 2 diabetes and metabolic diseases.

The seeds with the highest calcium content per 30 g serving are sesame seeds (201 mg) and chia seeds (189 mg).

As for nuts, the “champions” of calcium content are almonds, with 97 mg per 35 g serving, followed by Brazil nuts with 51 mg per same serving and walnuts with 28 mg per same quantity. 

Bread products

One of the most consumed foods in the world, bread, in its various forms, represents a good source of calcium for any type of diet, including for vegans. 

Two slices of bread such as malted wheat, wheat germ, brown, or white bread provide more than 100 mg of calcium, representing 10% of the required daily dose.

vegan calcium edamame

Dried herbs

Dried herbs represent not only a savoury touch to almost any dish but are also excellent vegan calcium sources. A single teaspoon of dried herbs provides close to 10% of the needed daily dose of calcium – e.g. dried basil contains 105 mg of calcium, dried marjoram has 100 mg of calcium and dried thyme 95 mg of calcium.

Soy foods – edamame

Soy foods or edamame (obtained from fermented soybeans) are among the few plants seen as a complete source of fibre, protein and a complex of vitamins and minerals.

Tofu, for example, a favourite of vegans’ meals, contains an astonishing 350 mg of calcium per 100 g of serving, while tempeh provides 120 mg for the same weight.

Certain grains

Although not seen as traditional sources of calcium, aside from fibre and other minerals, certain grains can also contain calcium. Teff is such an example – delicious when added to chilli and bearing 120 mg of calcium per 250 g of serving. Amaranth, another gluten-free grain, can be used instead of couscous and rice. When turned into flour, it helps thicken sauces and soups. 

Blackstrap molasses

Lastly, blackstrap molasses is also on the list of vegan foods high in calcium. Blackstrap molasses (obtained from three-time-boiled sugar cane) provides 179 mg of calcium per tablespoon. In just 15 ml of blackstrap molasses, this sweetener provides vitamin B6, iron, magnesium, selenium and manganese.

No matter which of these foods and drinks you choose to include in your vegan diet, their calcium content will help prevent cardiovascular disease, colorectal cancer, and kidney stones, help regulate your blood pressure and maintain your bones healthy.

Should you have any questions regarding vegan calcium sources, give me a call or stop by the store.