A guide to vegan calcium sources

A guide to vegan calcium sources hero image
Carrying out a vegan diet opens up a world of incredible plant-based foods that provide a wealth of natural nutrition for the body. This comes in the form of fibres, oils, vitamins and minerals that play a huge part in protecting the body from diseases and improving overall health. These essential sustaining nutrients are present in foods such as vegetables, leafy greens and legumes, more specifically the likes of black beans, red lentils and chickpeas.

Certain vitamins and minerals may be slightly harder to incorporate into a vegan diet such as calcium, so it’s important to understand how to still consume a healthy amount.

Firstly, what is calcium?

Calcium is a mineral your body needs to remain healthy. It’s commonly known that calcium is crucial for healthy bones and teeth but its benefits do not stop there. Vital for healthy muscle contraction and functioning nervous system, this mineral, along with other related vitamins including Potassium and Magnesium ensure that your body remains healthy.

According to the NHS site, calcium intake for people between the ages of 19 – 64 should be around 700mg per day. Although this may seem like a large number, calcium is present in a wide variety of foods in a natural form, making it easier to hit the daily intake number. Consuming the mineral organically through foods ensures optimal absorption whilst also guaranteeing a balance of other important nutrients that work in conjunction.

It is important to note that it’s not only up to Calcium to provide the necessary vitamins for a healthy body. For good bone health, other minerals including Vitamin K and Protein also play a super important role in building those strong bones. In eating the correct foods, consuming all these key vitamins can be easily done!

A study carried out by the Vegan Society over the course of 5 years looked into the effects of calcium in a vegan diet and found that vegans were more at risk of getting a bone fracture when compared to meat-eaters, pescatarians and vegetarians due to the result of lower calcium intake. These results changed when studying those on a vegan diet but regularly consuming 525mg of calcium per day as they were no longer in danger of increased risks. In taking extra precautions to ensure you are consuming enough calcium daily can truly ensure that you keep your body in a healthy state.

Here are some great examples of plant-based calcium-rich foods that are also abundant with other effective minerals including magnesium, protein and iron!

Below we have included a list of foods that are calcium-rich and also super tasty! It’s a good idea to try and include these foods in your diet as much possible. The mg figures given indicate mg of calcium per 100g food.

  • Tahini/sesame seed spread (680mg)
  • Almonds (240mg) – almonds are a key ingredient in our delicious Nakd Pecan Pie Bar, Nakd Lemon Drizzle Bar and Nakd Carrot Cake Bar!
  • Raw spinach (170mg)
  • Cooked spinach (150mg)
  • Cooked curly kale (150mg)
  • Hazelnuts (140mg)
  • Raw curly kale (130mg)
  • Sunflower seeds (110mg)
  • Pak Choi (105mg)
  • Quinoa (60mg)
  • Raw broccoli (56mg)
  • Oats (54mg)
  • Canned chickpeas (43mg)
  • Cooked broccoli (40mg)
  • Cos or Romaine lettuce (33mg)
  • Pumpkin seeds (39mg)

Along with these raw ingredients, Tofu is also a brilliant source of calcium, providing 200-240mg Calcium per 100g. As a versatile ingredient, tofu can be used in several recipes including stir fries, barbecued dishes and soups.

Edible seaweeds and sea vegetables are also great sources of fibre and calcium whilst working harmoniously with other important minerals. An easy way to incorporate these algae into your diet is to look for easy-to-use Nori seaweed sheets that easily roll into delicious vegetable wraps or rolls. Alternatively look for dried seaweeds such as Nori or Laver which are perfect for salads and soups.

A great seaweed to try out is the samphire grass, otherwise known as marsh samphire. Widely available in the UK and seen along the coastal regions during those gorgeous summer months, it is best eaten raw but can also be lightly steamed whilst still keeping all the nutrition! Full of Calcium, B vitamins and fibre, it’s a great ingredient to incorporate into your diet.

“To increase the overall mineral content of the diet, eat natural wholegrains such as wholegrain rice, quinoa, buckwheat, and barley, plenty of dark green leafy greens, lettuces & other vegetables, small handfuls of seeds (especially pumpkin seeds, shelled hempseeds, sesame or sunflower seeds) or nuts such as almonds as snacks mid-morning or afternoon. In addition, add sea vegetables or 100g soaked or steamed tofu to vegetables, lunchtime salads, or to soups/stews or stir-fries”.

How to improve absorption of calcium on a plant-based diet

Vegan diets are usually high in fibre due to the amount of wholegrains and greens intake. Although these foods are inherently good for the body, they also include mineral blockers or anti-nutrients, such as phytic acid. Although this isn’t a major concern for most people, it can become a more serious issue for those who lead a plant-based diet. In order to counter this issue, prepare staple foods properly by soaking wholegrains including rice, oats and quinoa for a few hours before use.

Another tip is to soak nuts in warm salty water before peeling them. Legumes such as chickpeas, lentils and peas need a real good soaking before cooking, or better yet, sprout them! This is a natural process by which seeds germinate and put out shoots – all you need is a few seed trays. Lentils are great for sprouting, super easy and tasty!

Sprouting is a great process to that holds many benefits. Not only does it change foods to become more digestible, but it also increases the nutrients and enzyme content which is great for the human body!

Here are a few quick tips on how to add more calcium to your diet:

Indulge in a salad as often as possible and add in all the good stuff including broccoli, pak choi, seaweeds and nuts. Even add in a little tofu for an extra nutritious meal.

  • Seaweed strips or scattering of sunflower seeds ontop of your salad not only make it even more delicious, but are also calcium rich ingredients that will help your body at the same time!
  • Add beans, chickpeas or any other type of legume to your soups, stir fries or broths.
  • Add a little extra flavour to your rice cakes by spreading almond butter or hummus on top.

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