Getting the Right Amount of Calcium from a Vegan Diet

By on June 17, 2014
How Do Vegans Get Calcium In Their Diet

Calcium is required for healthy teeth and bones. It also facilitates blood clotting and proper functioning of muscles and nerves. The recommended daily allowance (RDA) of calcium varies among countries. For example, the United Kingdom recommends 700 mg. while countries such as Peru, China and Japan suggest 300 mg. In the United States, the RDA is 1000 mg. The higher RDA in the United States is to compensate for the larger amount of animal protein consumed in the average American diet. Elevated amounts of animal proteins may result in loss of calcium through the urinary system. Studies have concluded that vegetarians obtain larger amounts of calcium from food than others among the population. Excessive amounts of sodium in the diet are believed to cause excretion of calcium as well.

Milk is not a good source of calsium

Other components in the diet may also influence how well calcium is absorbed. Some plant constituents may impede calcium absorption. Spinach contains an abundance of calcium, but it forms a chemical bond with oxalic acid that prevents absorption by the body. Insufficient Vitamin D in the diet has been found to lead to a calcium deficiency. Vitamin D is necessary for the production of the hormone, calcitriol. Calcitriol increases the levels of calcium in the bloodstream so that it is released to the bones. Without it, bones can become weak and brittle, and in worse cases, rickets may develop. Vitamin D is typically synthesized by the skin upon exposure to sunlight. However, many people have begun to limit their time in the sun to avoid the risk of skin cancer. Vitamin D can also be acquired through the diet with foods such as cereals and soy milk. The RDA for Vitamin D is 600 International Units (IU) until age 70. The RDA for people 70 years old or older is 800 IU.

There are a large number of fruits, vegetables and a variety of nuts that are good sources of calcium. This includes low oxalate, green leafy vegetables such as collards, cabbage and kale. Broccoli has 32 mg. of calcium in an 80 g. serving and watercress has 136 mg. Four to six dried figs contain as much as 250 mg. of calcium. A handful of Brazil nuts will provide 87 mg. of calcium and the equivalent amount of almonds delivers 51 mg. Other foods that are high in calcium include organic plain tofu, which has 500 a 250 g. package and sesame seeds, containing 168 mg. in a small handful. Oranges, olives and molasses are also high in calcium. Calcium deficiencies in individuals maintaining a vegetarian diet are rare. Little evidence has been provided that supports the idea that calcium levels below the RDA may cause adverse health effects.

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