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Vegan Calcium

Vegan calcium doesn't need to be a concern. This page includes a huge list of foods containing calcium (clickable link) so you can work out what foods will give you which amounts of calcium.

Vegan calcium - like vegan protein - can be a confusing issue because most people think they can only get this important mineral from animal derived sources.

This isn't true and I would much rather get my calcium from foods which do not clog up my arteries and threaten me with heart disease and stroke.

I can honestly say that even if I didn't care about animals and the environment, I still would NOT get my calcium from animals, purely for the health reasons.

skeleton CALCIUM: WHY IS IT IMPORTANT?

We need calcium in our diet for a variety of reasons - the main one being the developement and maintenance of strong bones and teeth. Because calcium is the major mineral found in our bones and teeth (along with phosphorus and other nutrients), it is critical that we get enough. Out of all the minerals in our bodies, calcium is the most abundant with the average male having around three pounds and the average female about 2 pounds. 99% of calcium is found in bones and teeth with the remaining 1% in the soft tissues and watery parts of the body where calcium helps to regulate normal processes of the body.

We need calcium for our muscles and nerves to work properly and for blood clotting. Calcium is so critical that if we don't get enough of it, it will be taken from the bones and used for these other critical functions which can lead to osteoporosis. Osteoporosis causes the bones to become weak and fragile and can lead to curved spines and bone fractures.

Not a good look!



HOW MUCH CALCIUM DO WE NEED?

Calcium intake requirements per day in milligrams (mg).

Age Male Female Preganant Lactating
Birth to 6 months 210 mg 210 mg
7-12 months 270 mg 270 mg
1-3 years 500 mg 500 mg
4-8 years 800 mg 800 mg
9-13 years 1,300 mg 1,300 mg
14-18 years 1,300 mg 1,300 mg 1,300 mg 1,300 mg
19-50 years 1,000 mg 1,000 mg 1,000 mg 1,000 mg
50+ years 1,200 mg 1,200 mg

Information developed by the Food and Nutrition Board (FNB) at the Institute of Medicine of the National Academies (formerly National Academy of Sciences).

So if we are cutting out dairy products from our diet, surely we will have trouble getting enough vegan calcium?

Well here are a few egg and dairy items with their calcium content per measure:

  • 1 oz of cheddar cheese = 204 mg's of calcium.

  • 1 oz of feta cheese = 140 mg's of calcium.

  • 1 cup of lowfat cottage cheese = 138 mg's of calcium.

  • 1 cup of non fat cottage cheese = 46 mg's of calcium.

  • 1 oz of wholemilk mozzarella cheese = 143 mg's of calcium.

  • 1 cup of wholefat milk = 276 mg's of calcium.

  • 1 large scrambled egg = 43 mg's of calcium.

    And compare those foods with the below list of foods containing calcium:

    Food item Measure Mg's per measure
    Almonds 1/4 cup 89
    Beans, baked, canned, plain or vegetarian 1 cup 86
    Kale, cooked, boiled, drained, without salt 1 cup 94
    Orange juice, calcium fortified 8 oz 300
    Peas, edible-podded, frozen, cooked, boiled, drained, without salt 1 cup 94
    Rhubarb, frozen, cooked, with sugar 1 cup 348
    Soyabeans, green, cooked, boiled, drained, without salt 1 cup 261
    Soya milk, calcium enriched 1 cup *300
    Spinach, canned, drained solids 1 cup 272
    Tofu, firm, prepared with calcium sulfate and magnesium chloride (nigari) 1/4 block 163
    Wheat flour, white, all-purpose, self-rising, enriched 1 cup 423

    *Depending on the brand.



    Huge list of foods containing calcium.

    You can see from these selected food items that vegans can get their calcium just as easily as a non vegan. And of course, the added bonus is that vegan calcium foods contain no cholesterol at all and is far healthier because they don't contain the high amount of saturated fats which are in dairy foods. In fact, most nutritionists and health organisations will tell you to limit your intake of dairy foods due to their saturated fat content!

    The Vitamin D Connection

    Make sure you get enough vitamin D as this helps the body to absorb calcium. Expose your arms and face to the sun everyday for around 15 minutes if you can. Most people - including omnivores - get their vitamin D this way as it will form under the skin in reaction to sunlight. Vitamin D is not found in plant foods but can be obtained from vegetable margarines, some margarines and other vegan foods which are fortified with the vitamin.


    Now, the daily requirements for calcium is quite high in my opinion.

    Studies have also shown that many people do not get enough calcium in their diet - and this includes omnivores as well - and to make sure I am getting enough calcium I take a calcium tablet everyday.

    It is important not to have too much calcium in your diet though as this could impair kidney function and would lead to reduced absorption of other minerals such as iron, zinc, magnesium and phosphorus.

    The Tolerable Upper Intake Levels (ULs) for calcium established by the Food and Nutrition Board are as follows:

    Age Male Female Pregnant Lactating
    Birth to 12 months None established None established
    1-13 yrs 2,500 mg 2,500 mg
    14-50 yrs 2,500 mg 2,500mg 2,500 mg 2,500mg
    51+ yrs 2,500 mg 2,500 mg

    I hope this has shown you that getting vegan calcium in your diet is as easy to achieve as is calcium from a non vegan diet. Calcium is a vital mineral and we should all make sure that we are getting enough. The list of foods containing calcium will help you to work out your daily quota of calcium, so make sure your diet includes calcium rich foods and also consider taking a calcium supplement.








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