A Happy, Healthy Family

6.08.2016

Plant-Based Calcium Sources


In last week's nutrition post, I mentioned that research is increasingly pointing to the fact that animal-based calcium sources are not as beneficial as we have all been led to believe.

Other than the two times I've had to go on milk-soy-protein-intolerance elimination diets to breast feed my children, we're not completely dairy-free in our house, but we have cut down on our dairy intake significantly over the past few years, and we don't drink cow's milk at all.

If you're looking to reduce your dairy intake, that is wonderful! Read below to find out how to make sure you're meeting your calcium needs through plant sources.

Recommended Daily Allowance of Calcium
The USDA recommends 800-1,200 mg of calcium per day, but WHO recommends only 400-500 mg per day. Regardless, plant-based calcium is usually far easier for our bodies to absorb because we can more readily break down plant foods than animal-based foods, so even if you're a dairy-lover, it's still beneficial to make sure you're eating some of these calcium-rich plants.

For information on specific calcium contents, click here.

Vegetables
Kale
Swiss chard
Lettuces
Turnip greens
Broccoli
Okra
Collard greens
Artichokes

Nuts
Almonds
Brazil nuts

Fruits
Figs
Citrus (navel oranges, tangerines, lemons, and grapefruit)
Kiwi
Raisins
Dried apricots
Blackberries
Dates

Grains/Seeds
Quinoa
Brown rice
Wheat
Corn
Sesame seeds
Flaxseeds

Legumes
White beans
Great Northern beans
Navy beans
Black beans
Chick peas

Soy Products
Soy can be a controversial food, which I will touch on in another post, but there are some calcium-rich soy products available.
Soy milk
Veggie burgers
Soy cheese
Tofu

Miscellaneous
Blackstrap molasses
Ground thyme
Ground oregano
Ground basil


Foods to Avoid
Caffeine, salt, and alcohol all contribute to calcium LOSS from the body and should not be consumed in excess.

The Importance of Vitamin D
Vitamin D helps the body absorb calcium. It's added to cow's milk, but you can also get it from about 5-10 minutes outside in the sun a few times a week without sunblock (after that, be sure to put on the sunblock, obviously!). There are very few dietary sources of it, so regardless of whether you're going dairy-free or not, your best options are sun exposure or fortified foods. There are some fatty fish sources, including sockeye salmon and canned tuna, but the sun remains the most efficient source of Vitamin D (although if you live north of certain latitudes, you will have to have an additional source in winter months).

To read more about Vitamin D, click here.

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