Best Sources of Calcium for Vegans
Calcium plays a crucial role in your body, which is well known for building and maintaining your bones. Yet, this mineral is also vital for muscle contraction, blood pressure regulation, nerve transmission, and blood clotting.
What is the Vegan Diet?
A vegan diet is a way of eating where the focus is on filling up your plate with plant foods.
Some examples of plant foods include:
- Whole grains
This way of eating is not about being restrictive. People who follow a vegan diet eat mainly plant-based but may still choose to eat small amounts of meat, poultry, fish, seafood, and dairy.
What Do Vegans Can and Cannot Eat?
Foods that vegans can eat:
- Fruits and vegetables
- Tofu and tempeh
- Grains include rice, pasta, bread, couscous, quinoa, bulgur, and millet.
- Legumes, nuts, and seeds, including chickpeas, black beans, and other beans, are excellent sources of plant-based proteins. Nuts and nut butter are packed with nutrients. You can also try flaxseeds, walnuts, or chia seeds for omega 3.
- Fortified dairy substitutes such as oat, almond, soy milk, and plant-based yogurt.
- Vegan food products or meat alternatives like vegan mayonnaise, burger patties, or vegan ice cream.
Why Is Calcium Important?
Calcium plays various roles in the body. These include the following:
Calcium makes up around 99% of the body’s calcium. The mineral calcium is essential for bone growth, development, and maintenance. Calcium keeps bones healthy and slows down bone density loss, a natural part of aging. Taking vitamins that are rich in calcium can strengthen the bones.
It helps regulate muscle contraction. When a nerve stimulates a muscle, the body releases it. This mineral helps the proteins in the muscle carry out the work of contraction. The muscle will relax when the body pumps it out of the muscle.
The role of this mineral in blood clotting cannot be overstated. Several steps are involved in the clotting process. This is one of the chemicals involved in these reactions. The heart muscle is also maintained as part of its role in muscle function. Blood vessel smooth muscles relax when it is present.
It is a co-factor for various enzymes. Without this mineral, some key enzymes cannot work well. Studies have also recommended that consuming enough it can result in:
- Improved cholesterol values
- Lower risk of developing conditions involving high blood pressure during pregnancy
- Lower risk of colorectal adenomas, a type of non-cancerous tumor
- Lower blood pressure in young people
- Lower blood pressure in those whose mothers who consumed enough calcium during pregnancy
Best Calcium Sources for Vegans
When most of us think about the best sources of calcium, milk usually is top-of-mind. Plenty of foods are rich in calcium, and many don’t have dairy. This may be good news, especially for vegans and people who are lactose intolerant and can’t fully digest dairy products.
Foods that are rich in calcium may include:
- Chia seeds
- Soy milk
- Dried figs
- White beans
- Sunflower seeds
- Broccoli rabe
- Sesame seeds
- Sweet potatoes
- Mustard and collard greens
- Oranges and orange juice
- Butternut squash