Calcium is a vital nutrient for the functioning of our body. While it is present in high proportion across our bones and teeth, it cannot be generated by our bodily systems. Hence, the only sources of this major mineral are calcium foods and supplements.
Similar to our body, nature has presented Calcium in high proportions in plenty of foods that it is quite easy to maintain your calcium levels. However, if your body is still not able to absorb the Calcium, you may end up with Calcium deficiency which has serious health consequences.
Sometimes calcium intake via supplements can cause side-effects or it may not be fully absorbed (non-bioavailable) by our body. Hence, it is essential to ensure a high intake of bioavailable Calcium that is readily absorbed by your body.
One of the best and most effective ways to ensure sufficient bioavailable Calcium intake is by including Calcium foods in your diet itself. In this article, we will highlight plant-based Calcium foods that have higher bioavailability (leading to higher absorption of calcium by your body).
Ensuring higher Calcium absorption with Calcium Foods
While dairy is one of the most popular and rich sources of Calcium, it may not be a viable option for those who are lactose intolerant or vegan. Additionally, there are plenty of plant-based sources that contain sufficient dietary Calcium to easily replace dairy. Let’s look into some in here:
Dark Green Leafy Vegetables and Green Vegetables
- Okra cooked (60g contains 132 mg of Calcium)
- Boiled Spinach ( 1/2 cup contains 175 mg of Calcium)
- Cooked Broccoli (1/2 cup contains 90 mg of Calcium)
- Greens (Collard, Beet, Turnip contain 70-100 mg)
- Kale 100 g contains 150 mg
- Amaranth Leaves cooked 132 g contain 276 mg
- Rhubarb: 137g contains 266 mg
- Raw Taro 125 g contains 161 mg
Herbs and Spices
- Moringa Oleifera Leaves Dried 30g to contain 600 mg
- Curry Leaves 100 g contain 810 mg Calcium
- Celery Seeds 6g contain 115 mg
- Fennel Seeds / Saunf 10 g contains 112 mg
- Nigella Seeds / Kalonji 10 g contains 120 mg
- Raw Watercress (Gotu Kola or Brahmi) 32g contains 43 mg
Seeds and Nuts – Antioxidants rich Calcium Foods
- Sesame Seeds (1 tablespoon – 12 g – contains 80 mg of Calcium)
- Chia Seeds 100 g contains 640 mg
- Almonds (1/4 cup has 95 mg)
- Flax Seeds (42 g contains 108 mg)
- Lotus Seeds Dried – 1 cup equivalent to 32 g contains 53 mg
Grains – Energy and Fibre rich Calcium Foods
- Amaranth Boiled (1/2 cup – 150 mg)
- Finger Millet / Ragi 100 g contains 345 mg
- Oatmeal 100 g contains 52 mg
Dried Fruits – Antioxidants and Fatty Acids rich Calcium Foods
- Dried Figs 40 g contains 54 mg Calcium
- Dried Apricot 32 g contains 23 mg Calcium
- Dates 100 g contains 40 mg
Beans and Lentils – Protein rich Calcium Foods
- Soya Bean ( 1/2 cup contains 90 mg)
- Chickpeas (1 tablespoon – 35g – contains 56 mg of Calcium)
- Mung Beans raw 100 g contains 132 mg
Other Calcium Foods
Blackstrap Molasses (1 tablespoon contains 175 mg of Calcium)
Top tips to boost up Calcium absorption from Calcium Foods
If you are struggling to maintain your calcium levels despite taking a calcium-rich diet, then do get medical advise as your body is losing more Calcium than it is able to absorb from foods. Additionally, the following steps can be taken to ensure higher absorption from calcium foods:
Reduce or intake of caffeine and alcohol
Both caffeine and alcohol interfere with Calcium absorption in the body and alcohol actually stimulate bone erosion. While moderate quantities of both would not hurt anybody taking enough Calcium in the diet, but for those struggling with calcium levels and for those who lack dietary calcium; both caffeine and alcohol should be tightly monitored.
- The first step would be to significantly reduce your consumption of Caffeine.
- Secondly, avoid taking calcium foods along with coffee. This would reduce the impact of caffeine on Calcium absorption.
- Thirdly, slowly replace caffeine and alcohol with healthier drinks such as herbal teas and fresh fruit juices.
Reduce or STOP your intake of Common Salt (Sodium Chloride)
Salt inhibits Calcium absorption and actually leads to loss of Calcium via kidneys as both Sodium and Calcium fight for the same space in your bloodstream. When your body loses Calcium from the blood, it restores the same by using the store from the bones, hence making our bones weak.
STOP intake of Soft Drinks
Phosphoric acid present in soft drinks leads to increased excretion of calcium via urine, hence creating a deficiency in the bones and body. Soft drinks contain high amounts of sugar, caffeine, and are highly acidic in nature. They change the medium of the body from alkaline to acidic, thus promoting inflammation and multiple lifestyle disorders.
Get active and Engage in PHYSICAL ACTIVITY
Research indicates that physical activity helps with bone development and hence higher bone density. It also boosts up intestinal calcium absorption and reduces the loss of calcium in the urine. Moderate to hard physical activity increases the strength of the bones. It also increases muscular endurance, hence making you physically and mentally alert.
Get enough SLEEP
Sufficient Calcium in our bloodstream actually assists with the generation of sleep by inducing production and circulation of hormone Serotonin. Similarly, enough sleep boosts the functions in the body such as healthy digestion, brain cell development, skin restoration, and blood circulation.
It is as simple as if your body is well rested with sleep, it is able to use the energy into constructive functions. If it is not, it is tired and the functioning is disrupted. Unhealthy digestion due to lack of sleep leads to an inefficient assimilation of nutrients and majority of them get wasted – even if you are eating healthy. So, get enough SLEEP.
Increase your exposure to the Sun
Vitamin D is essential for Calcium absorption in the body. Early morning and late evening sun exposure is considered to be the best for our skin to generate Vitamin D that would further assist with the absorption of Calcium in the body.
Ensure your Vitamin K intake is sufficient
Vitamin K assists to transport Calcium from the bloodstream to the bones. To ensure absorbed calcium leads to strong bones, you would need to add Vitamin K rich foods in your diet.