One million Americans call themselves vegans, according to the Vegetarian Research Group. Vegans, who eschew not only animal products, but also fish, eggs and dairy, can enjoy such benefits as a reduced risk of heart disease, high blood pressure and diabetes. However, due to a limited variety of food sources, vegans can also suffer from certain nutrient deficiencies, such as calcium. Calcium is crucial for maintaining healthy teeth and bones, and also contributes to your heart health and your muscle and nerve function. Fortunately, vegans have access to several sources of calcium that don’t involve dairy products. Here are 10 healthy, vegan ways to get calcium:
Calcium from fruits: Fruits offer a sweet, healthy treat that can top off any meal, and they’re loaded with nutrients and other good-for-you benefits. Some also deliver a good boost of calcium. Try an orange (75 mg calcium), a handful of figs (4 figs offers 506 mg calcium), a tablespoon of currants or a few apricots to help supply you with the necessary daily intake of this mineral.
Calcium from vegetables: Green, leafy veggies don’t just pack a wallop of iron. Several serve up a solid boost of calcium as well. An 85 g serving of broccoli offers 34 mg of calcium, while curly kale provides a respectable 143 mg of calcium per serving. Okra and watercress also offer a solid calcium boost.
Calcium from legumes: I’m a big fan of the bean. With savory flavors and tons of protein, bean makes a great staple in any diet, and, in many cases, also provides a solid source of calcium. Opt for baked beans (72 g of calcium per serving), red kidney beans or chick peas for the best calcium bang for your bean buck.
Calcium from grains: Think grains are just good for fiber? Think again! Whole grains contain a host of nutrients and minerals, one of which happens to be calcium. In fact, one slice of wholemeal bread gives you 32 grams of calcium. Muesli bread (Swiss style), white rice (boiled) and cooked pasta also are good source of calcium.
Seeds: Sesame seeds (1 tablespoon offers 80 g calcium) and fennel seeds (69 g calcium per tablespoon) can spice up your meal and provide a good serving of this vital mineral.
Calcium from nuts: A mere 12 halves of walnuts will give you a healthy 38 g of calcium. Hazlenuts, almonds and brazil nuts are also delicious-and calcium packed-nut choices.
Nondairy milk: If you think milk always means: dairy, you may be surprised. Nondairy-type milk choices abound. Almond milk, for example, serves up plenty of calcium (450 mg) per serving.
Calcium-fortified foods: Many foods available at your local grocer, from juices to snack bars to cereals, come enriched with calcium. Simply check the food label to see if calcium has been added.
Calcium from Vitamin D: No, Vitamin D doesn’t contain calcium. But you can actually increase your calcium intake by increasing your consumption of Vitamin D, a vitamin that assists in the use and absorption of calcium in your body. Get more Vitamin D by getting enough sunshine, eating fortified foods or through supplements.
Calcium from supplements: A simple way to help you meet your daily calcium needs is by taking a supplement.
Keep in mind, for those between 19 and 50 years old, the daily recommend intake of calcium is 1,000 mg. So be sure to consume the right balance of foods and supplements to help you reach this amount.
Choosing a vegan lifestyle doesn’t have to lead to a calcium deficiency. Simply opt for calcium rich plant-based foods, calcium-fortified foods, or supplements to maintain the proper levels of this mineral, and you’ll be on the right start towards keeping your bones-and the rest of you-strong and healthy!
- http://www.statisticbrain.com/vegetarian-statistics/ (Vegan statistics)
- http://www.urmc.rochester.edu/encyclopedia/content.aspx?ContentTypeID=76&ContentID=02018-1 (fennel seeds)
- http://www.osumc.net/2013/04/as-seen-on-channel-8-getting-enough-milk/ (almond milk)
- http://umm.edu/Health/Medical/Ency/Articles/Calcium-in-diet (calcium supplement dosage)
- http://www.ext.colostate.edu/pubs/foodnut/09324.html (calcium & Vitamin D facts)
- http://brown.edu/Student_Services/Health_Services/Health_Education/nutrition_&_eating_concerns/being_a_vegetarian.php (vegan health benefits)
- http://www.iofbonehealth.org/calcium-rich-foods (calcium-rich foods)
Originally posted 2013-11-14 11:41:04.