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  • Writer's pictureJolanta Nowobilski

Plant Based Calcium & How to Maximize Absorption

When I first went plant based as a budding nutrition major in college, I had some concerns about getting enough calcium. I was so used to meeting my calcium needs through cow milk, I wondered 'how the heck am I going to get enough calcium from plants?' Even though cow milk is the most common way for Americans to meet their calcium needs, there are so many other sources of calcium found in plant based sources.

Why do we need calcium anyways? We're told that calcium helps us build strong bones. This is 100% true, but calcium is also helpful with nerve and muscle function and blood clotting. Now that we know why we need calcium, let's talk about some plant based sources.

Plant Based Calcium Sources:

- fortified dairy substitutes

- fortified juices

- calcium-set tofu

- dark leafy greens (e.g. collard greens, spinach, kale)

- beans

- lentils

- sesame and tahini

- dried fruits

Ways to Maximize Absorption

Sometimes, just eating foods with calcium isn't enough for meeting calcium needs. Calcium actually needs the help of vitamin D to be absorbed properly into our bodies. This is commonly found in dairy substitutes that have calcium fortification. Mushrooms are also a great source of vitamin D, so pairing mushrooms with a calcium-rich food is a great way to maximize calcium absorption.

Let's not forget about some good sunshine! Sunshine helps our bodies make our own vitamin D. One way to get sunshine is to take a walk after your meal (which also helps with digestion).

Limiting caffeine during meals is another way to increase calcium levels. Consider having sources of caffeine like tea and coffee outside of meals.

Supplementation for both calcium and vitamin D may be necessary for adequate calcium levels.

All of these suggestions are not necessary to take in order to have adequate calcium levels. This post is for educational and entertainment purposes only. Talk to your health care provider about any concerns you might have and to address your unique needs.

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