That is a question you often are asked, as a vegan. Most people are raised in a society, where you must drink milk and eat cheese each day in order to get calcium and strong bones. Milk has always had a high status and considered healthy and necessary. Unfortunately, that myth is still going strong, even though more people switched the cow milk out with plant milk. The milk myth is laying deep inside us, because the dairy industry has been very good at promoting themselves, and to make people believe that milk is the primary source to calcium.
Today we have got new science that tells us that dairy products are not that good for our health. Dairy do contain calcium, but that is more or less the only benefit, you will obtain from it. You can easily live a healthy life without drinking cow milk and still get your storage of calcium in your body filled. Fortunately, there are a lot of other food sources that are healthier for you than dairy products, and you can get your calcium at the same time.
In this article we will take a look at the importance of getting enough calcium, and how simply you can get it through plants and delicious meals.
Calcium, an essential mineral
Calcium is a mineral, and is very important to keep your body healthy and strong. Most of the calcium, 99%, are used in the bones and teeth. The last 1% is flowing along with the blood, where it is used in a lot of essential processes around in the body. It plays a vital role for the brain and nerve system to function properly. Calcium also helps muscle movement like the contractions and cardiovascular function.
Calcium helps build, renew and maintain the bone tissue, and is especially needed when the bones are in growth. Therefore, kids have a bigger need for calcium than grown ups does.
Our bones get more porous when we get older, which is why, it is very important for elders to ingest the right amount of calcium, in order to prevent descaling of the bones. Calcium can also help prevent osteoporosis, which elders and women after menopause are more prone to. Studies have also shown that calcium has a positive impact of lower blood pressure for people with high blood pressure, or younger people who are prone to a high blood pressure due to a genetic matter.
A healthy grown up contains about 1 kilo of calcium in the body. The recommended intake of calcium a day for grown ups is 800 mg. It may sound like a lot, but it is actually not that difficult to achieve, if you eat a vary of different food. Later in this article, you will get a list over which food that are great sources for calcium.
In order for calcium to be absorbed in the body, you also need to have enough vitamin D. Vitamin D increases the uptake of calcium from the digestive system, so if you are in vitamin D deficiency, the calcium will not be fully utilized.
Additionally, we also need our magnesium depots to be loaded. Magnesium regulates how the calcium is used in the body, and how well it will be utilized.
Strong bones without cow milk
Fortunately there are a lot of other sources to calcium than milk and cheese. Many green vegetables and seeds contain calcium, and if you eat a little of each every day, you should get your depots filled.
The green kale is a particular good way to get your calcium, and in the same time contains a lot of great vitamins and minerals. Green kale has a high amount of dietary fiber and is high in antioxidants. So in stead of drinking 250 ml of milk a day, it would be a lot better to eat 250 grams of green kale a day.
But if you are not a green kale kind of person, you get a list below of other great food sources containing a good amount of calcium.
List over calcium sources per 100 gram
- Broccoli 44,2 mg
- Oat 53 mg
- Green beans 60 mg
- Chickpeas 124 mg
- Soy beans 163 mg
- Dried figs 193 mg
- Green kale 219 mg
- Almonds 256 mg
- Sesame seeds/tahin 959 mg
The ingredients above can be used in a lot of different dishes, and it is actually easy to put in some small meals during the day. Here you get 5 ideas to sneak in the calcium.
- Go nuts! A handful of nuts each day is a perfect snack, and is easy to carry on the go.
- Put a teaspoon of tahin in your hummus, it will contribute with almost 100 mg calcium.
- An orange a day, keep the doctor away! An orange contains proximately 56,6 mg of calcium, and it is a great source and easy way to fill your calcium depots.
- A good handful of green kale in your main meal is a great source to calcium.
- You could also change your evening candy out with green kale chips. It is crispy and tasty and a healthier snack, if you miss something to go with on your movie night.
It can be a good idea to take supplements, if you have tendency to have a too little amount of calcium in your body, or if you are genetic predisposed for some sicknesses. But if you eat a vary of different food you most likely will get the calcium and other vitamins that you need. Many people today take unnecessary vitamin supplements, even though it is not needed. Consult with your doctor, if you maybe think that you don’t get enough.
Bottom line is that calcium is very important for your body, and it will make your bones stronger, luckily we don’t have to drink cow milk or eat cheese. Eat a vary of different plant sources and you will stay strong, even as a vegan drinking plant milk instead.
About the Author
Heidi Kirstine has been vegan for 4 years now and loves experimenting with new recipies. She finds peace and joy by cooking, and loves to show people how amazing plants can be.