Saturday, August 29, 2009

Calcium in the vegan diet

Examiner.com, Friday, August 28, 2009

By Devon Bruce, Tampa Vegetarian Examiner

Vegans are vegetarians who do not eat diary or eggs. Since vegans do not eat diary, it is common to believe that they are at risk for being calcium deficient. Calcium is an essential nutrient that aids in making stronger teeth and bones. While most of the calcium in our bodies is stored in these two places, it is also important in assisting with proper nerve and muscle functions.

Calcium prevents dangerous health conditions like osteoporosis, kidney stones, high blood pressure and colon cancer. Symptoms of a calcium deficiency include tingling in your hands and feet, bone fractures, and muscle pain. Most people get their recommended amount of calcium through milk and cheese. However, there are many ways to get calcium into a vegan diet:

Dark, Leafy Vegetables

Vegetables like spinach, turnip greens, and collard greens are packed with calcium. These kinds of vegetables are very versatile in a vegan diet because they can be a main course or a side dish. Options for serving these vegetables include adding to salads and soups. Also, make a wrap with other vegetables like avocado, onions and tomatoes.

Tofu

Tofu is an excellent way to get calcium since there are two different ways it is eaten. The first is soft or silken tofu, which is used for smoothies, sauces, dressings, and desserts. The other type is regular or firm tofu, which is used for stir fries, sandwiches, and mixed with pasta.

Broccoli

Even though broccoli is a common vegetable, most people do not know that it has a good amount of calcium. Add it to stir fries, vegan omelets, soups, salads, casseroles, sauces, or as a side dish.

Fortified Rice, Almond, or Soy Milk

The best part about this example is that all of these fortified drinks are available at your local supermarket. This is an easy way to get more calcium into a diet because there are so many uses for it. Examples include smoothies, cereal, tea, coffee, sauces and vegan ice cream. In addition to these drinks, orange juice that is fortified with calcium is another option.

Calcium Supplements

Since most people do not get the recommended daily amount of calcium, supplements are available in most supermarkets and pharmacies. There are two main types of supplements: one with just calcium or calcium with vitamin D added. The recommended supplement is the latter because vitamin D helps absorb calcium in the stomach.

2 comments:

Delina said...

I've been vegan for about two years, and can tell you my bones haven't depleted one bit! In fact, osteoporosis has been shown to be linked to milk consumption because of its high protein content. A good quality organic soy, rice, almond, oat or hemp milk will do wonders for the body in ways a cow's milk never could!

NCARA said...

Thanks Delina! You're so right. Cows get their calcium from plants, and that's where we should get our calcium from too. And it's so unnatural for us to drink the secretions of another species. Gross!