7 May 2010

Calcium in a Vegan Diet

One question asked by people when becoming Vegan is, will they get enough calcium without supplementation? Yes they will, as calcium is found in most veggies, fruit, nuts, cereals and seeds. Plus the fact that plant protein does not cause calcium loss from bones, unlike animal protein. Research has shown that people who live in countries where the diet is typically plant based have little osteoporosis, even when calcium intake is lower than that in dairy consuming countries. 

Calcium is not only required for bone health it is necessary for the teeth, blood clotting, metabolising iron, the transmission of nerve impulses, the regulation of the heart's rhythm and it alleviates insomnia. It is a major mineral in our bodies and is approximately 2% of our body weight. 

Some examples calcium content of plant food :
1 tablespoon blackstrap molasses 200mg
1 cup broccoli 170mg
1 med baked potato 26mg
1 cup cubed acorn squash 90mg
1 med avocado 30mg
1 cup cubed papaya 50mg
6 dry figs 100mg
1/2 cup golden raisins 43mg
1 cup boiled white beans 150mg
2 tablespoons almonds  50mg
2 tablespoons Brazil nuts 80mg
2 tablespoons sesame seeds 170mg
1 cup quinoa 80mg
1 cup hummus 120mg
1 glass Alpro Soya Milk  240mg
8oz soy yogurt 150 to 300mg

Daily allowances (RDA's) vary by country but basically they state under 8 years - 200 to 800mg, 9 to 12 years 800 - 100mg, 13 to adult 1200mg, adult 1000mg, seniors 1200mg,  Which with a balanced Vegan diet is easily achievable. Vitamin D either obtained by sitting in the sunshine for around half an hour per day or by supplementation will aid with absorption and use of calcium. If you feel the need to take calcium supplementation note that it is best taken in the evening before bed. Note that other causes of calcium loss from the body, other than animal protein, are high sodium intake, caffeine, and smoking. Some medications also affect calcium absorption and calcium loss so check with the pharmacist when filling a script.

On the other side of the coin, the well-known author and supporter of the raw-Vegan lifestyle, David Wolfe  states "Calcium does not build bones. This is one of the biggest misconceptions ever." He believes that silicon and magnesium are the keys to increasing bone density and we should stop taking calcium and start taking them to increase our bone density.  Read  Use Tips from David Wolfe to Increase Bone Density. and decide for yourself. 


Toasted Quinoa Salad
From Chet Day   by Karen Railey        

3/4 cup uncooked quinoa
1 cup diced carrots
1/2 cup chopped red bell pepper
1/4 cup minced parsley or cilantro
2 sliced green onions
juice of 1 lemon and 1 lime (or 1 - 2 tablespoons of each)
1-1/2 tablespoons tamari soy sauce
2 cloves minced or pressed garlic
1 teaspoon chili sauce (tobasco) (or use a pinch of cayenne, a few red pepper flakes, etc.)

Rinse quinoa and drain. Put in a pot and dry toast until a few grains begin to pop. Add 1-1/2 cups of water, bring to a boil, cover and simmer for about 15 minutes, or until the water is absorbed. Remove from heat and let stand for 10 minutes. Fluff with a fork and let cool. Mix carrot, red pepper, parsley and green onion in large bowl. Add cold quinoa and toss to combine, Whisk together lemon and lime juices, tamari, garlic and chili sauce. Pour over salad and combine well. Chill until serving time. This recipe can be fun. Try throwing in a few fresh raw peas, some fresh raw corn, fresh sliced raw green beans, etc.

Reblog this post [with Zemanta]


Marion said...

Many of us here in the North don't have enough Vitamin D, so I have to take supplements. I was glad to find out calcium is absorbed better with Vitamin D. Since I am on many medications, I worried about the calcium I was receiving, and so I am on supplements. Thanks for another great learning post, Jackie...and your blog looks wonderful!!!!

Mihl said...

Interesting post and great new layout!

Greenearth said...

What a great article. Calcium is something that has always confused me and you have explained it so clearly, a big thanks.

Vegan Newlyweds said...

I think broccoli is one of those 'hidden' gems....not only is it a great source of calcium but it is actually quite versatile in cooking--I love it. My wife hates it:(

Jan said...

Love the new layout. Calcium has always been a puzzle to me. Thanks for the information.

Jim said...

Excellent article. I am glad I found your blog!

James Reno

Anonymous said...

Great to find your blog - and thanks for the reference to David Wolf's theories on not needing calcium - I have been trying to make sense of this recently and have found that magnesium oil definitely makes a difference, in overall health and energy, when used topically and have just started using silica gel.....will see what happens!

Alicia said...

Yes, calcium is very useful for our strong bones..and healthy body also.thanks for providing a very useful information here.Very useful diet ideas here. To explain the benefits of this healthy life style which includes the eating of healthy foods and proper exercise. It is ideal for people who have some knowledge or even no mediterranean heart diet.

urban vegan said...

First, wow, I haven't been here in awhile. I LOVE your new design. Brava!

Second, this is an *excellent* post; the calcium issue is one of the biggest misconceptions about a vegan diet. Davis & Melina, the registered dieticians who wrote "Becoming Vegan" discuss this issue at length in their book and dispel so many myths.They also discuss "absorption rates" of calcium which is essentially the most important thing. Vegans may absorb calcium more efficiently since our diets tend to be more alkaline, whereas an acidic (meaty!) diet tends to cause the body to eliminate calcium in order to maintain a neutral Ph. Other things that interfere with calcium absorption are too much caffeine, salt, fizzy drinks and lack of vitamin D. (So even vegans need to be mindful!)

Lack of calcium is an issue for all women, vegan or otherwise, and many of us fall short. I'm probably one of them! I try to take supplements when I remember. And I do eat relatively healthily...but this post was a good reminder. In fact, I'm going to take my calcium supplement right now. LOL. (You can buy vegan calcium on

Crude Oil Trader said...

Just found you on MyBlogLog, fantastic! I will add links for you at

Focus on Health said...

Great info here! (you too in your comment, UV!)

I love the sound of that quinoa recipe! :P

~ Candi

Farty Girl said...

I was visiting my grandmother over the winter break. Her friends asked me the same question: Where do you get your calcium? I said: FROM GREENS! They were like: Wha?

It's funny how we assume to know nutrition from advertising. Everyone has that bs about milk stuck in their heads, when it's crap.

Thank you for the reminder of the many different places we can go for calcium!

Lori said...

Agree with Farty Girl- people ask me where I get my calcium, protein, etc... when I tell them greens, they look at me like I'm nuts (pun??). It's so interesting how the LARGE majority of the population has no idea what real food is and how to get all of your nutrients- without taking a pill- calcium or otherwise. We are the lucky ones- who care about what goes into our bodies enough to create a healthy environment for our bodies.
Anyway, great post! Love the quinoa recipe!