(No animals were exploited while writing this article)
The conversation round veganism is getting louder and frankly, I’m finding it a bit difficult to ignore. Especially since my workplace is populated by organic aficionados, passionate about health, sustainability and the like.
At lunch with my work buddies recently, I reluctantly tore my attention from the tempting Norwegian salmon, and ordered a no-dairy, no-meat, no-taste dish, promising them I’d give veganism a try. And I did. It’s been 15 minutes already!
Kidding aside, when I think no dairy, my first concern, as is any normal adult on the brink of osteoporosis, what about calcium? It’s the most abundant mineral in my body and I’d like it to stay that way. Yes I’d like to keep all my bones and teeth, thank you.
So what foods, apart from milk, yoghurt and cheese, are rich in calcium? Plenty, I discover. For other mice in the same trap as I, here goes:
7 calcium rich food groups
- Millet: Ragi, barnyard and kodo
- Seeds & nut: Poppy, sesame, chia, amaranth, flax and almonds
- Dark green leaves: Spinach, turnip, mustard, beet, amaranth and bok choy
- Veggies: Okra, swiss chard, broccoli and bitter gourd
- Fruits: Orange, tangerine, custard apple, guava, kiwi, berries like mulberries and blackberries, dried figs, papaya and passion fruit
- Pulses: Chickpeas, black-eyed peas, kidney beans (rajma), endamame (fresh soy beans)
- Tofu & soy milk
Also, calcium fortified foods
Quite the rage these days, you’ll find orange juice, oats and flour among foods fortified with calcium. Of course, naturally occurring nutrients are better.
So how much calcium does one actually need?
The short answer is Daily Value (DV) 1300 mg. But to estimate how much of it is actually absorbed from the foods we eat, know this:
- Consuming vast amounts of calcium doesn’t necessarily mean you absorb it all
- Calcium absorption decreases with age, so while children absorb as much as 60% calcium from foods, adults absorb a mere 20%. Interestingly, pregnant women absorb more calcium.
- If your diet is high in sodium, protein, alcohol, tea and coffee, calcium tends to get excreted, rather than absorbed and retained
- Doing load bearing exercises like weights encourages your body to produce calcium
- And do take enough of Vitamin D. It’s what the body needs it to absorb non-dairy sources of calcium
Off to research Vit D now….