Top 75 Sources of Plant-Based Calcium
Just a quick foray into your inbox this Sunday evening. My sister arrived a few days ago on a totally surprise visit from the UK, so I’ve been hanging out with her most the weekend. I therefore thought this post could legitimately wait until Sunday night, and I do hope that you don’t mind (if you follow me on Instagram you may have caught my boomie and insta story with my sis here). Now just crossing fingers that Mila stays asleep a little longer so I can get this out to you before the dinner bell calls!
If you’ve been following my blog for a while now, you may have already read my other key posts on plant-based iron and protein. These two nutrients, along with calcium (and B12), are some of the most commonly questioned in terms of whether you can get enough of them on a plant-based diet. So here’s a nice little summary for you today on (a) why you need calcium, (b) how much you need, (c) what can inhibit and enhance absorption, and (d) (most importantly), where oh where you can get it.
Now, unlike what’s commonly marketed, cow’s milk and yoghurt are NOT the best sources of calcium. In fact, a significant and growing body of research actually shows that an excess intake of dairy products as well as animal protein in general, actually leads to calcium excretion from the body, as opposed to absorption. Plant foods are therefore a much safer, as well as considerably kinder and more sustainable way to get your daily calcium fix.
To make it nice and easy for you, I’ve scoured the nutritional databases and research to whittle down the top 75 sources of this lovely nutrient, in an easy to read table below. Have a friend or family member who’s worried about their calcium intake? Osteoporosis, menopause, or kids? Forward this email to them! I’d love to expand both their and your horizons, into the infinitely delicious and wonderful world of plant-based calcium containing foods.
Calcium – why do we need it?
So why do we need calcium? Here are the two main reasons why…
- Calcium helps grow and repatriate healthy bones and teeth
- Calcium assists with muscle contraction, including that needed in our heart (think of it as the opposite to magnesium, the muscle relaxant).
How much do I need?
The recommended daily intakes for calcium are as follows. Now these numbers may not mean that much in themselves, but read these in conjunction with the top food sources below and you’ll soon see how you can fill out your numbers easily. If you’re eating a varied plant-based diet, as I recommend, with lots of greens, nuts and seeds, legumes, tofu and tempeh, you’ll be getting ample amounts.
- Infants 1-3 years – 500mg/day
- Children 4-8 years – 700mg/day
- Women, Men & Pregnancy – 1000mg/day
- Elderly (>50 yrs for men, >70 yrs for women) – 1300mg/day
What can impact absorption?
Note that vitamin D enhances absorption, while phytates, oxalates and tannins inhibit absorption. This means:
- Vitamin D – make sure you’re getting half an hour in the sun each day (early morn and late afternoon in summer, midday in winter).
- Phytates – soak your nuts, seeds, legumes and whole grains (more tips on that here).
- Oxalates – don’t eat too many raw dark leafy vegetables or beetroot (sometimes it’s good to lightly steam them to reduce your oxalate intake).
- Tannins – don’t drink too much black tea with your meals. Now this doesn’t mean you have to avoid the old English Brekky completely (I certainly don’t – I love it!). But if you’re having issues with absorption then you might want to reduce your consumption for a while, or just have it at least an hour outside of meals.
And finally – where can I find my calcium!
We’re often told by media (who are sponsored in large part by the cash-rich dairy corporations) that the best sources of calcium are cow’s milk, yoghurt and cheese. Not true my friends. There are a plethora of other sources, many of which are much higher in calcium than their dairy counterparts. Here is my comprehensive list of the world’s Top 75 Sources of Plant-Based Calcium, from sesame seeds and tahini, to tofu, tempeh, dark leafy greens, spices and spirulina. I’ve even included a few dairy products in there too, just so you can see where they stand. You’ll be blown away at the selection!
Top Plant-Based Calcium Foods
Click on each food below to read more and order from our online store
|1||Basil (dried)||2,240 mg|
|2||Marjoram (dried)||1,990 mg|
|3||Sage (ground)||1,652 mg|
|4||Good Green Stuff||1,650 mg|
|5||Spearmint (dried)||1,488 mg|
|7||Rosemary (dried)||1,280 mg|
|9||Sesame Seeds (unhulled)||975 mg|
|10||Kids Good Stuff||933 mg|
|12||Maca Powder||740 mg|
|Edam Cheese – if we were to include it, it would come in here||731 mg|
|14||Chia Seeds||631 mg|
|15||Mesquite Powder||520 mg|
|16||Sacha Inchi Powder||493 mg|
|18||Black Pepper||443 mg|
|19||Tahini (unhulled)||426 mg|
|20||Black Tahini (unhulled)||406 mg|
|22||Carob Powder||348 mg|
|23||Almond Butter||347 mg|
|24||Chilli Powder||330 mg|
|26||Almonds (natural)||269 mg|
|29||Collard Greens||232 mg|
|32||Goji Berry||190 mg|
|33||Tofu (TONZU)||170 mg|
|36||Black-eyed Beans||160 mg|
|37||Brazil Nuts||160 mg|
|41||Tahini (hulled)||141 mg|
|42||Sesame Seed (hulled)||131 mg|
|44||Soymilk (Vitasoy Original)||120 mg|
|45||Coconut Milk (Vitasoy)||120 mg|
|46||Almond Milk (Vitasoy)||120 mg|
|Standard blue milk (3.3% fat) – if we were to include it, it would come in here||119 mg|
|48||Pinto Beans||113 mg|
|49||Tempeh (TONZU)||111 mg|
|51||Bok Choy||105 mg|
|58||Hemp Seeds||70 mg|
|63||Acai Bowl Premix||57 mg|
Note: Some foods listed are great sources of calcium (e.g spices, superfood powders), but are difficult to eat in large quantities. These should therefore be included in addition to the more substantial foods.
So that’s it – why you need it, how much you need, what can inhibit and enhance absorption, and where to find it. I hope you find this a useful resource, and encourage you to bookmark it to come back again. Forward it to a friend too who’s worried about their calcium intake!
What are your favourite calcium containing foods from the list above? I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments below or over on my Facebook or Instagram. If you have any questions, please feel free to leave them in the comments below also.
Off to cook that dinner for me – til next week, stay happy and well.
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