“Got Milk?” If you grew up in America, chances are you were bombarded with this slogan as a child. The signs hung everywhere in the school cafeteria boasting a popular celebrity and all the reasons why it was important to drink milk. The most notable reason, of course? You guessed it: calcium. Milk has long been regarded as one of the best sources of calcium and for the majority of our lives we’ve been told that there was no way to have strong bones without it. This, however, is simply not true. In fact, did you know it has been found that the countries that have the highest dairy consumption rates also have the highest rates of hip fractures? For example, countries with low calcium intakes like Peru, Japan, Africa, and India, have a low incidence of bone fractures, even though they may be getting only 1/3 the amount of calcium that is recommended for Americans. Why might this be?
Well first, it’s important to understand what calcium is. Calcium is an essential mineral that we cannot live without. Our bodies cannot produce calcium, which means we have to get enough of it from the food that we eat. Calcium has many important functions in the body, however over 99% is stored in our bones and teeth, which supports their structure and hardness. The current recommended RDA in America for Men & Women 19-50 years old is 1,000 mg per day, however there is debate as to whether this is too high or not. What cannot be debated however is the fact that you can get all of the calcium you need on a plant-based diet. We’ve provided a list of calcium rich plant foods below, and as long as you’re consuming a variety of foods on this list, calcium should not be an issue.
Best sources of calcium:
Soy Foods- One cup of cooked soybeans provides 18.5% of the RDI, whereas the same quantity of immature soybeans — known as edamame — offers around 27.6% Foods made from soybeans, such as tofu, tempeh, and natto, are also rich in this mineral. Tofu made with calcium phosphate contains 350 mg per 3.5 ounces
Beans, Peas, and Lentils - The varieties providing the highest levels of this mineral per cooked cup white beans, navy beans, and black beans (13% of the RDI)
Certain Vegetables and Leafy Greens -Some vegetables, especially bitter ones like dark leafy greens and cruciferous vegetables, are rich in calcium. Spinach, bok choy, as well as turnip, mustard, and collard greens provide 84–142 mg per cooked 1/2 cup.
️ Fortified Foods and Drinks Foods fortified in calcium include plant yogurts, milks, orange juice, and some types of cereal are a great way to add calcium to your diet! One cup typically provides around 30% of the RDI of highly absorbable calcium. On the other hand, 1 cup of fortified orange juice usually covers up to 50% of your daily requirements. Just keep in mind that not all plant milks are fortified, so check the label before buying!
Keep in mind that these are just the best sources of calcium, and that calcium is found in almost every single food in trace amounts. As long as you’re eating some of the foods on this list and eating a balanced diet, you should not have a problem meeting your calcium needs.