One common concern when following a plant based diet, free of dairy, is CALCIUM. Of course my calcium concern arose with my entrance into childbearing years, but should be a point of thought for every American. America after all rates top in the world for osteoporosis!
We need calcium for more than just building and maintaining healthy bones… calcium is used in the body to contract and dilate blood vessels, and is vital in the process of muscle contraction. Lack of adequate calcium INTAKE, ASSIMILATION, or ABSORPTION overtime will force your body to pull calcium from your bones to keep your blood vessels and muscles working properly…. [with a side effect of fragile bones and increased osteoporosis risk… yikes!]. While I could use this opportunity to dive into non-beneficial sources of calcium (such as cow milk, soy, and isolated supplements) I will instead point out wonderful sources of calcium that are nourishing, alkalizing, affordable, available, and as you can see in images below… easy to grow yourself for maximum nutritional profile and affordability!
Remember, Vitamin D is necessary for proper calcium absorption and functioning, so be sure to get out in the sunshine whenever possible for the best source of Vitamin D!
Recommended Daily Calcium Intake:
- Children 1-3 years old: 700mg per day
- Children 4-8 years old: 1,000mg per day
- Youth 9-18 years old: 1,200-1,400mg per day
- Men/Women age 18+: 1,000 mg per day
- Pregnant/Breastfeeding Women: 1,200-1,400mg per day
Collard Greens. 357mg per cup (cooked) Maybe this is why collard greens are used to help bring good luck for the New Year? Who knows, but collard greens are probably the highest source of calcium in the greens family. Try a collard wrap with guacamole, tomatoes and alfalfa sprouts for a quick, calcium-boosting meal!
Mustard Greens or Bok Choy. 155mg per cup (cooked) Mustards boast a tangy flavor while bok choy maintains a more mild flavor and is traditionally used in Asian dishes. Either green can easily be combined in raw salads, juiced or blended, steamed, or thrown into soups.
Turnip Greens. 257mg per cup (cooked) Not particularly my favorite vegetable, but yet another amazing source of calcium. Are you seeing a trend in greens yet? Don’t worry you will.
Dandelion Greens. 187mg per cup (raw) Who would’ve thought that a plant considered a nuisance in landscaping designs actually benefits your health astronomically. Dandelion additionally supports and gently cleanses your liver. Blend with kiwi, strawberry, and pineapple for a tangy, sweet green tropical smoothie! I personally prefer growing and juicing the Italian variety of dandelion greens.
Kale. 179mg per cup Kale also contains vitamin K in high amounts, which also benefits your blood! Kale chips make a great alternative to potato chips when those crunchy-munchy cravings hit. Kale chips are nothing more than massaged kale laid out flat on a cookie sheet, put in a preheated oven on lowest setting. Turn the oven off, and let the kale sit in the warm oven for roughly 15 minutes. TaDa! No fancy machinery required.
Black Strap Molasses. 200mg per TBSP Although this byproduct of the cane tree is debated, there is no doubt that black strap molasses contains a very quickly absorbed source of calcium AND iron! Add a teaspoon to your morning tea to replace that sugar cube and boost your calcium! I enjoy black strap molasses with my dandelion root tea.
Tahini. 179 per 2 TBSP. Traditionally used in Mediterranean cuisine, tahini (blended sesame seeds) provides an excellent calcium boost in your diet. My favorite way to consume tahini is with a tahini-lemon-garlic salad dressing, on top of greens, or as a dip for my collard wraps!
Alfalfa (Medicago Sativa) 35mg per cup Although alfalfa does not contain an extremely high amount of calcium, its overall nutritional profile aid in the absorption and functioning of calcium in the body. Alfalfa is known as the “King of All Foods” for a good reason. Alfalfa sprouts are extremely easy to digest, and easy to find at most grocery stores as well. I like to stuff my collard greens with alfalfa sprouts, or sprinkle on any veggie salad.
Herbs. In addition to the dandelion and alfalfa mentioned above, nature provides us with other herbs that really benefit our body’s calcium needs.
- Red Raspberry Leaf
- Stinging Nettle
Herbal CA by Natures Sunshine Products is a wonderful herbal blend I took throughout my pregnancy for additional calcium support in a convenient encapsulated form. My ultimate favorite way to get in my calcium-boosting greens is with my Tower Garden, pictured throughout this post. Contact me to get started with your own Tower Garden, or to receive Nature’s Sunshine Herbal Ca blend at wholesale cost!