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Top Vegan Calcium Sources [Calcium Deficiency, Importance]

Since childhood, we have been reciting our calcium lessons. Every time we would say no to milk, mom and dad would remind us of the calcium-milk connection and then warn us of weak bones and teeth. Perhaps it was their way to motivate us to drink a glass of milk every day. So since childhood, we have known milk and dairy products as rich calcium sources (of course, vegetarian). For animal eaters, the sources of calcium are aplenty and they need not worry about their intake unless they have gut issues or digestion problems that hinder the absorption of essential minerals and vitamins.

vegan calcium sources (natural)

Important sources of calcium

But times have changed, and there are a number of reported deficiencies everywhere. We all are fighting nutritional deficiencies due to dietary modifications and lifestyle changes. This has seriously affected our health and brought us closer to disease. There is a lot that we can do to boost our health. Calcium deficiency is surely one of the leading causes of bone disease everywhere. 
Our intake of milk has reduced and so has the quality of milk too.
Moreover, many of you have turned vegan or developed lactose intolerance, which means you cannot have that glass of calcium anymore. 
Worry not!
There are some excellent vegan sources of calcium that you were unaware of.
Here are some important vegetarian sources of calcium.

  • Almonds are one of the richest calcium sources around 
  • Sesame seeds 
  • tahini (2 tbsp- 130mg)
  • Soybean
  • Ragi (finger millet)
  • Chia seeds -
  • Corn 
  • Spinach 
  • Figs
  • Mustard greens
  • Turnip greens
  • White beans
  • Sunflower seeds (unsalted)
  • Sweet potatoes
  • Okra/bhindi
  • Orange and fortified orange juice
  • Legumes -chickpeas, black gram

importance of calcium

Adequate intake of calcium is important to keep most nutritional deficiencies at bay. Research finds that adequate calcium intake might help in body weight regulation. Additionally, it may help manage moderate-to-severe premenstrual symptoms. 

Calcium benefits bone health in more ways than one and reduces the risk of osteoporosis, bone problems.

It is critical to dental health.

Calcium plays a vital role in cell signaling in the body. That is, calcium is an essential part in the cellular role in the constriction and relaxation of blood vessels, muscle contraction, nerve impulse transmission, and insulin secretion.

You can increase your calcium intake by including:

Nuts and seeds, including all types of nuts - almonds, walnuts, pistachios, pine nuts, flax seeds, sesame seeds lead the pack.

Spices - fenugreek seeds, cumin seeds, 

Greens - spinach, kale

Citrus fruits

Tomatoes

Beans - Green and soybean

Legumes - chickpeas, black gram

Cabbage

Cucumber

Caluflower, broccoli 


  • boosts bone health
  • strengthens gums, bones, teeth
  • helps in cholesterol management
  • helps in muscle contraction
  • helps in the secretion and regulation of certain hormones
  • helps with weight loss  (the protein-calcium combination)
  • helps in blood pressure management

Calcium Deficiency symptoms

  • numbness in extremities (fingers and toes)
  • lethargy
  • muscle cramps
  • abnormal heart rhythm
  • convulsions
  • loss of appetite

Did you know oats are packed with calcium?

You get 82mg of calcium per 100 gram of oats! Instant oats (unless sweetened or processed with salt) are a healthier option to highly processed maida or refined flours. In fact, instant oatmeal has the same nutritional profile as rolled oats, with the only point of concern being their high glycemic index compared to the latter.

Instant oatmeal is steamed to make digestion a little easier, which raises their GI. 

What is Glycemic Index?

It is the time a specific food takes to get absorbed in your body in a 2-hour timeline. This determines their impact on your blood glucose levels. 

Foods with HIGH GI causes blood sugar spikes, that is, raising the level of glucose in your bloodstream

Low GI foods, on the other hand, are slowly absorbed, thus releasing glucose gradually.

Diabetics must focus on a low GI diet.


Are Oats Gluten-Free

Oats are gluten-free, though they contain a protein, known as AVENIN, which has somewhat similar properties to gluten. But it is still considered relatively safer for those with celiac disease. 

However, always check the labels to find whether the oats were processed in the same facility as whole wheat. Sometimes they are, and therefore, there is a risk of contamination. 

Milling of Oats

The milling of oats involves numerous steps. 

Dehulling oats exposes the digestible groat

Heat processing is essential for inactivating enzymes that cause rancidity. Heat extrusion also plays a role in improving the functional properties of oat bran, which might play a role in slower gut transit and thus creating a feeling of fullness or satiety. 

Extrusion is known to alter the ability of β-glucan to lower the levels of serum cholesterol. 

Cutting, rolling, and grinding are important for converting the groat into a more convenient food, which is easier to cook.

Why is the soaking of whole grains, millets, legumes important?

Seeds, nuts, millets, and whole grains contain phytic acid, which binds with calcium, magnesium, copper, iron, and zinc within the intestinal tract and makes the absorption of these minerals difficult.


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