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Calcium: How To Get Calcium From Plant Sources

Updated on July 30, 2014

Tips from the Nutrition Consultant

Why Calcium?

Many of us have been raised to believe that dairy foods are the only forms of calcium, when there are many more healthier ways to obtain this important mineral.

Calcium is needed to keep our bones (teeth too) and joints in good shape. When we pair calcium, magnesium, and vitamin D together, we can be assured that our muscular skeletal system is in good shape.

Currently, there are recommendations for specific calcium levels for both men and women, as well as children and the elderly. Often, we focus so much on these numbers, that we find ourselves taking supplements and getting too much of a good thing. Truth is, we don't need as much calcium as we think. What needs to happen is for us to make the transition from animal sources of calcium to plant sources, so our bodies can absorb it better.


Beans Beans!

A super source of calcium comes from beans. I'm talking about all kinds of beans from kidney, black, lima, green, and soy. There are varying amounts of calcium in each kind of bean, but you can be assured that you are getting a great amount. In addition to calcium, beans are high in fiber, which helps the body keep it's digestive system running well. Beans also contain B vitamins for energy and are a good source of iron. We can't forget about the large amount of protein found in beans either!

Below are some specifics for some of my favorite beans:

Bean
Amount
Calcium in mg
Black beans
1 cup
60
Chickpeas
1 cup
80
Kidney beans
1 cup
50
Lentils
1 cup
38
Navy beans
1 cup
128
Pinto beans
1 cup
82
Tempeh (fermented soy)*
1 cup
130
Tofu*
1/2 cup
130
*Keep in mind that when eating soy, you should purchase the non-GMO, organic variety.

Vegetables!

Many vegetables are a great source of calcium as well! In addition to the calcium, vegetables also contain fiber, and plenty of antioxidants and phytochemicals (which have many anti-cancer properties). Vitamin C is also found in our vegetables, which work well with the iron found in beans (it helps the iron absorb better).

Below are my favorite calcium-rich vegetables!

Vegetable
Amount
Calcium in mg
Arugula
1/2 cup
16
Broccoli (cooked)
1 cup
42
Cabbage (cooked)
1/2 cup
25
Collard greens (cooked)
1/2 cup
113
Kale (cooked)
1/2 cup
90
Sweet potato
1 medium
32

Nuts and Seeds!

In addition to beans and vegetables, we can't forget about those awesome nuts and seeds! Along with the calcium content, nuts and seeds are great sources of magnesium, selenium, and Vitamin E. Flaxseeds, specifically, are high in plant phytochemicals, which are protective against many cancers.

Read on for the top picks!

Food
Amount
Calcium in mg
Almonds
1 ounce
80
Flaxseeds*
1 ounce
48
Peanuts
1 ounce
15
Sunflower seeds
1 ounce
34
*Keep in mind that flaxseeds are best freshly ground. Flax should never be cooked in high heat, and should be stored in a cool dark place.

One more!

I must make a special place for Quinoa. Some people consider quinoa a grain, while others consider it a seed. Either way, it is a powerhouse antioxidant that supplies fiber, calcium, complete proteins, and B vitamins.

In 1 cup of quinoa alone, there are 102 mg of calcium! Enjoy!

Eat your plants!

Using the charts above, I hope you can find many ways to enhance your diet and include plenty of good vitamins and minerals by eating your plants! I often recommend supplementation only when a person needs it. When it comes to calcium supplementation though, I hesitate since there are so many food sources of it.

Remember, be your own health advocate! You don't always have to follow a "set" amount of numbers. What comes out of the ground is the most bioavailable for our bodies!

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