We've all seen those "Got Milk?" campaigns promoting calcium-rich cow's milk; but what if you don't drink cow's milk? Vegans (and all persons dairy-free) have no fear: here's a list of calcium-packed foods from the plant kingdom to support strong, healthy bones.
According to the National Osteoporosis Foundation, women age 50 and younger need 1,000mg of calcium daily to keep bones dense, and 51+ require 1,200mg. Men? 1,000mg age 70 and younger, 1,200mg 71+.
In addition to bone health, calcium helps our blood clot, and aids proper nerve and muscle function. The body can't make this mineral, thus it must be obtained through diet. The most convincing reason to keep up with calcium? When the body doesn't have enough to function, it takes it directly from our bones!
While supplements are convenient, sourcing calcium from food, especially nutrient-packed dark leafy greens, ensures the body is getting a highly-absorbable form it can use without delay.
You can't talk about calcium without mentioning vitamin D, required by the body to properly absorb calcium. The "sunshine vitamin" is often hard to obtain from sun exposure and diet alone, and for many supplementation is necessary.
Please speak with your physician about supplementing vitamin D.
1. Blackstrap Molasses
Warm, rich and sweet, this indulgent syrup is the byproduct of sugar extraction from raw sugar cane. It contains a host of minerals, including iron, magnesium and calcium; 2 TBSP contains 400mg of calcium. Make "hot molasses" by warming up your favorite plant-based milk and stirring in molasses to taste.
2. Collard Greens
3. Turnip Greens
Part of the cruciferous vegetable family, which also includes kale, broccoli and Brussels sprouts, 1 cooked cup contains 249mg of calcium. For an Asian-inspired twist, sauté greens with ginger, coconut aminos and a dash of sesame oil.
This hearty green contains 179mg of calcium per cup, cooked. Heat up some extra virgin olive oil in a pan, add garlic and red pepper flakes, then toss in greens to wilt.
This flavorful paste made from toasted, ground sesame seeds contains 128mg of calcium per 2 TBSP. Tahini is a staple in hummus recipes, which is delicious and simple to make with the help of a food processor.
+1 Chia Seeds
Tiny chia seeds are simply packed with nutrients, turn into a gel when mixed with liquid (makes the perfect breakfast pudding), and offer 18% of the recommended daily intake for calcium per serving.
vrg.org "Calcium in the Vegan Diet"
University of Maryland Medical Center "Calcium in Diet"
Huffington Post "Chia Seed Benefits"
National Osteoporosis Foundation "Calcium and Vitamin D: What you Need to Know"