Following a well-balanced plant-based diet, rich in healthy vegan foods, such as beans, vegetables, seeds, nuts, and whole grains can help us meet our daily needs of calcium.
How much calcium do we need daily?
Calcium is necessary for good health. For instance, calcium has a key role in muscle function, bone function, nerve transmission, hormonal secretion, the dilatation of blood vessels and many more.
We need about 1,000-1,300 mg of calcium per day. it depends on age and sex. Adult men and women need only 1,000 mg of calcium a day. Women older than 50 years, and teenagers need 1,200 and 1,300 mg of calcium a day, respectively (1).
We shouldn’t consume too much calcium from supplements, though. Exceeding the maximum safe dose of calcium may cause adverse effects!
Seeds are high in calcium
Seeds are among the best sources of calcium.
As a rule of thumb, consume whole seeds daily, as they contain many minerals and healthy fats. Walnuts, chia seeds, and flaxseeds are also rich in omega-3 fatty acids.
Common seeds rich in calcium (mg of calcium per 100g) are:
- chia seeds (631 mg),
- mustard seeds (266 mg). Mustard is also a good source of calcium. It has about 63 mg per 100g. The calcium content depends on the manufacturing process, though.
- flaxseeds (255 mg),
- sesame seeds (131 mg),
- sunflower seeds (78 mg),
- hemp seeds (70 mg),
- pumpkin seeds (55 mg)
Another great vegan calcium-rich food is tahini. Tahini is made from roasted sesame seeds. It contains 420 mg of calcium per 100g. Consume tahini in moderation, though. It’s high in calories. So, it can make you gain weight.
Spices boost your daily calcium intake
In fact, spices are the richest plant-based foods in calcium. Certainly, we won’t eat 100 grams of these seeds, but they can help us meet our daily needs.
- celery seeds (1,767 mg).
- dill seeds (1,516 mg). Dill seed gives an unusual flavor to recipes. Usually, they are used in breads, soups, and salad dressings.
- poppy seeds (1,438 mg). They are black, tiny seeds. They are sprinkled on bread or muffins.
- fennel seeds (1,196 mg). There are used as aromatic spice. They have a mild anise flavor.
- cumin seeds (931 mg). Cumin seeds are used in traditional cuisines. Either whole or ground. They give a distinctive flavor and aroma.
- coriander seeds (709 mg). They can be used whole or ground to many recipes.
- dried lotus seeds (163 mg). The lotus seeds are used in Asian cuisine and traditional medicine. They have a mild flavor.
Seeds and spices are super nutrient-dense foods as well. Spices and herbs have potent anti-microbial, anti-oxidant, and anti-tumorigenic properties. Spices can help us fight chronic inflammation and chronic diseases (2,3).
Vegetables are vegan foods high in calcium
Other vegan foods high in calcium are many vegetables:
- kale (254 mg). Kale is among the richest vegan foods in calcium. you can eat. Most noteworthy, kale has a low oxalate content. So, calcium in kale is bioavailable.
- collard greens (232 mg). You can enjoy collard greens either cooked or raw. Cooked collard greens contain about 140 mg of calcium.
- arugula (160 mg).
- beet greens (117 mg). Yes, beet greens are edible.
- mustard greens (115 mg). Mustard greens preserve their calcium content when cooked.
- turnip greens (114 mg).
- cabbage contains up to 105 mg of calcium per 100g, depending on the variety.
- chicory greens (100 mg). You can eat chicory greens raw. Cooking will make them less bitter and more sweat.
- spinach (99 mg). Although spinach has a pretty high amount of calcium, you better avoid consuming it with other calcium-rich foods. It’s high oxalate content prevents calcium absorption.
- sweet potato (37-60 mg). The calcium content depends on the variety. Cooked sweet potatoes preserve their calcium. You can eat the leaves of sweet potatoes. They are rich in calcium (78 mg) as well.
- squash (16-58 mg). Each squash variety has a different calcium content.
- Swiss chard (51 mg).
- broccoli (47 mg). It’s pretty high in vitamin C, which increases calcium absorption.
Beans and legumes contain decent amounts of calcium
Actually, all beans are good dietary sources of calcium:
- soybeans (277 mg),
- white beans (240 mg),
- black beans (191 mg),
- pinto beans (161 mg),
- black-eyed peas (128 mg),
- kidney beans (83 mg),
- lima beans (81 mg),
- chickpeas (49 mg),
- lentils (35 mg).
Furthermore, many fermented bean products and other common vegan foods are high in calcium:
- tofu (372 mg).
- natto (217 mg).
- tempeh (111 mg).
- edamame (60 mg).
- miso (57 mg).
- hummus (49 mg).
Whole grains contain modest amounts of calcium
Grains don’t contain any significant amount of calcium. But, as we consume large amounts of baked products, grains help us meet our daily needs.
Prefer consuming whole grains. The bran of seeds is the most nutritious part. The calcium content of common whole grains is:
- amaranth (159 mg). Amaranth is a grain. You’ll find amaranth as flour. Moreover, there are amaranth species that are cultivated for their leaves. Amaranth leaves contain even more calcium (215 mg).
- teff (180 mg). It’s a cereal grass. You’ll find it in Ethiopian cuisine.
- wheat (133 mg).
- oats (52 mg).
- barley (41 mg).
- buckwheat (41 mg).
Certain fruits are good plant-based sources of calcium
Even fruits are rich in calcium: