Calcium is the most abundant mineral in the human body, so naturally it’s also very important for our overall health, especially bone health. Let’s discuss why calcium is essential for so many bodily functions and the best vegan sources!March 29, 2023 7:50 pm March 29, 2023 7:50 pm
What is calcium?
Calcium is one of the most important minerals for the human body. For example, it plays a key role in the structure and maintenance of our bones and teeth. In fact, over 99% of the calcium in our body is stored in our bones and teeth.(1)
Although calcium is a mineral more often associated with healthy bones and teeth, it’s also essential for carrying messages from our brain to other parts of our body. In addition, it plays a role in blood clotting, muscle movement, as well as regulating normal heart rhythms and nerve functions. Several studies even show how calcium can ease symptoms of premenstrual syndrome (PMS) in women.(2)
However, the human body doesn’t produce calcium by itself. Therefore, we have to rely on our diet for sourcing the amount we need. Furthermore, our bodies require vitamin D in order to absorb calcium. As a result, human beings don’t fully benefit from a calcium-rich diet if they’re low on vitamin D.
If you follow a plant-based diet, mushrooms grown in UV light and fortified products like plant milks or breakfast cereals are great sources of vitamin D. Also, our Organic Hemp Seed Powder naturally offers vitamin D, plus a dose of healthy plant-based protein and fiber. It’s ideal for adding into a post-workout smoothie or mixing into breads and cakes.
However, sunlight is the best source of vitamin D. The vitamin forms in our skin when we come into contact with the sun’s ultraviolet (UV) rays, which is why some people call it ‘the sunshine vitamin’.
So, moving on, what are the best sources of calcium? Before we get into that, let’s quickly cover calcium deficiency.
What is calcium deficiency?
As previously discussed, calcium plays a major part in our bone health. Think of your bones as your body’s calcium reservoir. If we don’t get the recommended amount in our diets, our body will instead take calcium from our skeleton to use elsewhere, thus weakening our bones.
Subsequently, calcium is essential for children as they grow and develop. Children who don’t get enough calcium may not grow to their full potential height, or may develop other health issues.
Additionally, for adults, not enough calcium can increase the risk of developing osteoporosis, or frail bones that easily fracture. Osteoporosis is especially common in older women, which is why the healthcare professionals recommend they consume more calcium than their male counterparts. Complications from osteoporosis include, disability, spinal fractures or other bone fractures and difficulty walking. Unfortunately, hypocalcemia can also cause eye damage and an abnormal heartbeat.
The following conditions or lifestyle habits may result in low calcium levels and hypocalcemia:
- Excess consumption of caffeine, soda, or alcohol
- Coeliac disease, inflammatory bowel disease, Crohn’s disease, and other digestive diseases
- Overconsumption of magnesium
- Vitamin D deficiency
- Phosphate deficiency
- Eating disorders such as anorexia
- Some cancers such as colorectal, lung, and thyroid
- Kidney failure
Now let’s take a look at the best sources of calcium, how much calcium they contain and how that translates to our daily value (DV).
This may appear as a bit of a curve ball but we can assure you that it’s not. People eat almost all parts of the moringa tree and in many parts of the world they use it as a herbal remedy. In fact, it can positively impact so many different parts of the human body that several cultures refer to it as “the tree of life.” Just 2 tsp (4g) of moringa powder contain 100mg of calcium, which is almost 10% DV!
Moringa leaf powder is versatile, which probably explains why it’s so popular. The recommended serving sizes of the powder range from 2 to 6g. You can take it as a hot drink on an empty stomach or on a full stomach. It’s also great for mixing into salad dressing, stirring into soups or adding to a variety of pasta sauces, such as marinara or pesto. If you have a sweet tooth, fear not, it’s good for mixing into baked goods like brownies and cupcakes or blending into smoothies to give them a calcium-enriched boost! The choices are endless.
This gluten-free grain doesn’t grow from grasses like other cereal grains do. Besides being a complete plant-based protein, it is also one of the best vegan sources of calcium. A serving of cooked amaranth grain contains 115mg of calcium, which is up to 10% of our DV.
Fortunately, amaranth comes in many forms, all with terrific health benefits. So, no matter your cooking ability or style, amaranth will fit brilliantly into your recipes. For example, with our amaranth flour you can transform all your go-to baking recipes into calcium-rich showstoppers for friends and family.
Our Organic Amaranth Pops are a delicious addition to breakfast bowls, homemade granolas and yoghurt, while our Amaranth Flour is a great replacement for all-purpose flour.
Note: Make sure to double-check recipes before you use amaranth flour, especially for bread making, where in some cases no more than 25% of the flour can be replaced by amaranth flour as a blend. Any more can affect the structure and texture of the bread.
"Although calcium is a mineral more often associated with healthy bones and teeth, it’s also essential for carrying messages from our brain to other parts of our body."
This may come as a surprise, but incorporating seaweed into our diets is another way to boost our calcium intake. Generally, seaweeds are a versatile ingredient which make up many dishes, including sushi rolls, soups and stews, salads, and smoothies.
Wakame, which is perhaps the most commonly eaten seaweed, contains approx. 150mg of calcium, or 12% DV per 100g serving. You can find it in most Asian supermarkets or in sushi restaurants as part of a salad dish.
Another seaweed you might have come across is kelp, which can be eaten raw or dried. 100g of raw kelp provides around 170mg of calcium, or 13% DV. Raw kelp is often added to salads and main dishes, whereas people use dried kelp flakes as a seasoning.
Humans have a long history of cultivating seaweeds for several uses. More specifically, in recent years, seaweed farming has become a worldwide agricultural practice, providing food, as well as source material for various chemical uses, cattle feeds and fertilizers. Additionally, because of seaweed’s importance in marine ecologies and for absorbing carbon dioxide, recent attention has been on cultivating seaweed as a potential climate change mitigation strategy! Perhaps a reason to collectively cut down on our fish consumption, as mechanical dredging destroys these natural seaweed ecosystems.
Seeds play an important role in a balanced diet. Varieties such as chia seeds also fall into the category of great vegan sources of calcium. Just two tbsp (15g) of chia seed powder boast 100mg of calcium, which is almost 10% of our DV.
We at Erbology are huge fans of chia seeds. We’re especially proud of our Organic Chia Powder, which is not simply made of ground chia seeds. First, we cold-press the seeds to extract the oil. As a result, our powder is more concentrated and rich in minerals and vitamins. Simply stir into porridge, smoothies or mix into baked goods if you enjoy mildly nutty notes of flavor, with an additional calcium boost.
Technically a nut, hemp seeds are very nutritious. They have a mild, nutty flavor and are often referred to as hemp hearts. They are rich in healthy fats, protein and various minerals, such as magnesium and calcium. In fact hemp seed powder provides up to 50mg of calcium per 30g, which is approx 5% of our DV.
The Erbology Organic Hemp Seed powder is a brilliant source of calcium. Try adding a spoonful to your daily routine to increase your intake. You can add it into a post-workout smoothie or mix it into breads and cakes.