How to Get Enough Calcium: Vegan

In part one, posted yesterday, I went through my research findings for calcium deficiencies and the numerous ways it can be caused.  Today to lighten all of your fears, it is probably best to discuss how to keep our levels up and running, as a preventative measure. Please talk to your medical professional if you already have a deficiency.

So now you might be wondering how much calcium is necessary daily?  This can be tricky as each person leads different lifestyles and are at different stages in ones’ life.  Please refer to one of these country links: USAAU; UK.  Sorry if I missed out on your country, please let me know if you need assistance in finding per your own countries’ guidance.  So, even though each person is different, I believe the general census is around 1,000 mg daily per adult, pregnant/lactating woman need a bit more around 1,300 mg.  Post menopausal woman should not only increase calcium intake but it is also suggested to increase Vitamin D and magnesium to supplement each other.

How to absorb calcium in the highest amounts?  Calcium is not water soluble but rather a fat-soluble mineral.  Hence, it does require the intake of magnesium and Vitamin D to assist in carrying it through the body where it needs to go.  This means when intaking more calcium, it is best to increase your daily amount of magnesium and Vitamin D at the same time.  Magnesium should be around 1/2 the amount of supply as calcium.  The good thing about taking more magnesium is not only does it assist calcium in being more soluble, it helps to reduce the risk of kidney stone formations.  Personally, I have never suffered from one but my brother-in-law swears it is more painful than giving birth to a human baby.  (My sister strongly disagrees…)

How to keep on top of calcium levels? Getting enough calcium in the daily diet seems like an easy enough task, right?  Well, there are things that need to be done also to help assist in retaining calcium in the body.  If not careful, calcium can be eliminated from the body.  Besides eating healthy and watching your levels of magnesium intake, one of the best solutions is exercise outside in the sunshine.  Exercise has been found to assist in the circulation of calcium in the body, which is important as it is multifunctional.  At least 20 minutes of sunshine a day will provide enough vitamin D to help the body out in retaining calcium.  If you live in a cold region where sunshine is not prevalent, it might be best to talk to a medical professional and find out about supplementation during sunless days. Other than taking these important nutrients, it is also helpful to eat tons of fruits and vegetables.  Produce naturally contains high Boron which helps in minimizing calcium through urination.  This is thought to be one of the reasons why vegans/vegetarians have considerably less cases of osteoporosis than carnivores.

Best Times to Intake Calcium? Sounds strange however the evening is a better time of the day, or between meals, to intake calcium.  This is the opposite of what I was taught when young, since we were told to drink cow’s milk with each meal.  But, studies are finding when the body contains higher levels of acid in the stomach, calcium is absorbed in higher quantities.

What can you eat besides dairy products?  This is where the fun begins for me, since I am a foodie.  Calcium is available in a ton of natural, organic produce and products.  For instance, (my favorite) leafy greens such as kale, collards, mustard greens, broccoli and cabbage.  Collard greens are one of my favorites to add to soups or just as a side dish.  I looked it up on my chronometer.com and found just 2/3 cup of collard greens contains the same amount of calcium as 91% of a cup of full-fat milk.  And collard greens do not contain fat!  It’s also available in grains, legumes and seeds such as: almonds, pinto beans, soybeans, adzuki beans, brazil nuts, kelp, sunflower seeds, tofu, pulse and even hulled sesame seeds.  Warning though, kelp does also contain high amounts of iodine and salt which should be avoided if possible.  There’s also molasses, citrus fruits, figs, raisins and dried apricots.

Fighting Calcium deficiency

Dairy Free Calcium Sources

Peta Information on Why Vegan Calcium is Better than Cow’s Milk.

Hopefully this short series on calcium helps explain in more detail the importance of getting enough calcium in your diet.  Our parents were right, calcium is necessary, just remember it does not have to come from cow’s milk or cheese.  There are so many options out there, I urge you to add some of them to your diet and see how many better your calcium levels increase in a day.