Plant Food Sources of Calcium
It is a common misconception that calcium can only be obtained from dairy foods such as milk. This just isn’t true; there are plenty of plant food sources of calcium.
Tips to make sure you’re absorbing calcium well:
- Eat high-calcium foods separately from foods high in oxylates or phytates (such as phytic acid in whole grains, nuts, and legumes). Fortunately measures such as soaking can help reduce these compounds and lessen their interference with absorption of other nutrients.
- Ensure you are getting adequate vitamin D. If your vitamin D levels are low, you are probably not absorbing as much calcium as needed. You can get vitamin D from being in the sun, eating certain foods, or taking a supplement. I’ll do another post later on foods high in vitamin D.
- Magnesium is also important, so ensure you are also eating enough magnesium-rich foods. Again, I’ll provide more information on this soon as well!
- Cut down or stop soda intake. Most sodas are high in phosphates, which can interfere with proper calcium absorption. Caffeine also plays a role and may interfere. Another good reason to decrease soda consumption. Also watch your coffee intake, and if you’re experiencing issues with calcium absorption, cut down to 2 cups or less per day.
So let’s get down to talking about foods high in calcium. All I’m going to list are plant foods. We know dairy does contain calcium. Eating the foods listed below is a different approach you can take to getting adequate calcium. This is especially important for anyone that excludes dairy and/or meat products from their diet. These plant sources can add up to plenty of daily calcium if done correctly!
- Tofu, Soybean Sprouts
- Black-Eyed Peas, Navy Beans
- Okra, Nopales, Prickly Pear, Celeriac, Rhubarb
- Greens (collard, turnip, mustard, beet, amaranth)
- Swiss Chard, Kale, Bok Choy, Spinach, Chinese Cabbage, Arugula
- Broccoli Raab, Brussels Sprouts, Broccoli, Green Beans
- Squash (acorn, butternut)
- Agave, Celery Seed, Marjoram
- Thyme, Oregano, Spearmint, Parsley, Dill
- Chia Seeds, Hemp Seeds
One ounce of chia seeds contains over 15% the daily requirement of calcium. One serving of cooked broccoli raab contains 100 mg of calcium. Many of the foods on this list, like mustard greens, contain over 100 mg of calcium in one cup of the cooked vegetable. Other foods, like raw celeriac, contain almost 5% of the daily requirement of calcium in about a cup. So you can see that eating several foods from this list each day can definitely help get you to your daily calcium needs.
If you find that you’re not reaching what you need, though, it’s okay to talk with your nutritionist or doctor about supplementing. There are also some foods and beverages that are fortified with calcium, and this may be another option to up your intake. If you are using supplements or fortified foods, however, please discuss this with your health practitioner to ensure you aren’t consuming too much calcium.
I’ll be back soon with some more food ideas for you surrounding vitamin D and magnesium. Stay tuned!