Here’s one of the most prevailing and long-lasting health myths:

If you want to have strong teeth and bones, you must drink milk.

The fact is, you don’t need to drink milk (or consume any dairy at all for that matter) to obtain all of the calcium you need.

When I was a child, milk was considered so essential, a few children in my neighborhood were given “soda milk” at dinner. The recipe? Easy. Mix together one part milk with one part Coke. This bribe-in-a-glass was intended to provide an adequate supply of calcium to growing children. I wasn’t a milk fan, even sweetened neighbouhood-style with sugar and bubbles. I did love cheese though, so no one worried about my calcium consumption.

Is this your experience too? Have you too been led to believe that dairy is essential for obtaining calcium? If so, here are four facts you should know about plant-powered sources of calcium.

Four facts about vegan calcium sources + a healthy calcium rich green smoothie recipe

 

1. We can obtain all of the calcium that we need from vegan sources

 

Here are some of my favorite vegan calcium sources and suggestions for enjoying them.

Kale and collard greens: Add them by the handful to soups, stir-fries, curries, salads, and smoothies.

Almond Butter: Spread it on a sliced apple or banana, stir it into warm oatmeal, or blend some into a smoothie.

Fortified Plant Milks: Whenever a recipe calls for dairy milk, replace it with a plant-based milk. Enjoy it on cereal, add it to your tea and coffee and use it as a base for a smoothie.

Calcium Set Tofu: Add it to curries, tacos, salads, stir fries or even desserts.

Other rich vegan sources of calcium are sesame seeds, legumes, dried fruit (raisins, prunes, figs and dried apricots), and Veggies (broccoli, cabbage and okra). Don’t miss the calcium-packed Sweet Green Smoothie recipe at the end of this post.

2. Plant-based sources of calcium are as good as dairy

As you can see from this table, plant milks, kale and collard greens, almond butter, and calcium set tofu provide excellent sources of calcium.

Food (quantity)
Calcium (mg)
Soy Milk* (1 cup)
300
Almond Milk (1 cup)
300
Rice Milk (1 cup)
300
Dairy Milk (1 cup)
300
Calcium Set Tofu (100 g)
680
Kale (1½ cups)
265
Collard Greens (1½ cups)
400
Almond Butter (¼ cup)
220
Parmesan Cheese (¼ cup)
145
Gruyere Cheese (¼ cup)
20
Dairy Ice Cream (100 g)
130

*calcium quantities are for fortified milks

3. Calcium from plant-based sources is better than calcium from dairy foods

 

You might wonder—isn’t it better to obtain calcium from dairy products? The answer is— NO! Here’s why.

Dairy products are high in saturated fat and cholesterol and may be associated with an increased risk of heart disease. High intakes of dairy may also increase the risk of prostate cancer. Additionally, many people suffer from lactose intolerance.

Non-dairy products allow us to obtain calcium without the digestive upset that so often comes after consuming dairy products. Dairy is often contaminated with hormones, pesticides and antibiotics. Lastly, choosing plant-based sources of calcium helps to alleviate the suffering of cows in the dairy industry as well.

4. Some things for you to consider along with calcium consumption for bone health

 

In order to build and maintain strong bones and reduce your risk for osteoporosis, along with calcium ensure adequate supplies of vitamin D, protein, vitamin C and B12. Refer to these guidelines for recommended quantities.

You can meet your nutrient needs for vitamin D either through adequate sun-exposure, supplementation or the consumption of fortified foods. Beans and legumes such as chickpeas, black beans, kidney beans and soy products provide a rich source of protein, and fruits and vegetables are excellent sources of vitamin C. Ensure an adequate intake of vitamin B12 either from fortified foods and/or supplementation. Finally, for healthy bones, exercise on a regular basis and include some weight-bearing activities into your routine.

And here is one of my all-time favorite, thirst quenching, calcium-rich green smoothie recipes.

 

Calcium-rich green smoothie

To a blender, add all of the ingredients. Blend until smooth. Enjoy!
Prep Time 5 mins
Total Time 5 mins
Course Breakfast, Snack
Cuisine Plant-based, Vegan
Servings 2 people

Ingredients
  

  • 4 cups raw kale or spinach roughly chopped
  • 2 cups diced pineapple
  • 1 banana sliced
  • 1 tablespoon almond butter
  • 2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lime juice
  • 1 cup plant-based milk of your choice
  • 1 cup ice cubes

Instructions
 

  • To a blender, add all of the ingredients. Blend until smooth. Enjoy!
Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!

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