When you do a quick google search for foods high in calcium, it won't surprise you that the likes of milk, cheese, and other dairy products are at the top of the list. From a young age, we are told that we NEED to drink milk and consume dairy in order to get our daily dose of calcium. Heck, even sugar filled chocolate bars were endorsed as being a great source, The Milky Bar Kid was strong and tough remember?
Why do we need calcium in our diets?
But why do we need it!? What is so important about ensuring you meet your calcium needs?
Well, to put it bluntly, if you want to avoid diseases like osteoporosis, have healthy bones and teeth and avoid blood clots, you best make sure that you are paying attention to your calcium levels, and that goes for EVERYONE!
However, what may surprise you is that the same google search also shows that most of the other sources on the list are all derived from plants. Yup, those leafy greens and legumes have went and surprised us all again!
How much calcium do we actually need?
So how much do we need? Well according to the NHS, adults aged between 19-64 require 700mg per day with this rising a little as you get older and your bones become weaker. Children require different amounts depending on their life stage. During puberty (11-18 years), calcium needs are stated to be 1000mg per day. Younger than that, the recommended amount varies between 350 - 550mg per day.
Would you drink second-hand calcium?
Due to heavy promotion, many believe that the most convenient way of reaching these requirements is through the consumption of cow's milk but the question we would like to be considered by the masses is - how do the cow's themselves meet their calcium needs?
The answer? Through the consumption of plants, in other words, grass. Calcium is a mineral that is actually found in soil that is then absorbed into the roots of plants. By chowing down on grass all day long, our beautiful herbivore friends meet all of their calcium needs through a plant-based diet - not through the consumption of any other animal product.
Yet, instead of taking a leaf out of their book (literally), society believes that we have to drink their milk, which is meant for their off spring, to meet calcium requirements? We don't know about you, but we would rather consume our vitamins & minerals through their most natural state and not second-hand.
By obtaining calcium through it's most natural state, we can assure you that it is very much achievable to fulfil your calcium needs through a plant-based diet. By simply making sure you eat plenty of fruits, vegetables (in particular leafy greens), legumes, nuts & seeds, non-dairy milk with added calcium and soya products such as tofu, you will reach your calcium needs and optimise your bone health without a worry.
Calcium levels - Herbivore vs Carnivore
What is also interesting to note is that recent studies have found that people who do not consume meat, usually have a higher calcium count than those that do. Yes, really.
This is because calcium is not only found in bones, but also in the bloodstream. We lose calcium through the bloodstream through urine, sweat, and feces. Consuming large amounts of animal products speeds up this process, unlike the protein found in plants. It is also good to note the other factors that play havoc with retaining calcium such as smoking, high sodium diets and caffeine.
Further statistic - Cowspiracy
Not only is consuming dairy products unnecessary for calcium, it is also placing a HUGE strain on our environment.
The feature-length documentary & book, Cowspiracy, highlights the crisis our plant is facing due to mass animal agriculture.
Recent findings have shown that a farm that holds 2,500 dairy cows produces the same amount of waste as a city of 411,000! Livestock takes up 45% of the earths total land use with 2-5 acres needed for each cow. This doesn't even cover the amount of water (1,000 gallons per 1 gallon of milk!) and feed that is needed to raise cattle for dairy and meat products. Imagine if these resources could go to the hungry in third world populations!?
And there you have it!
In conclusion, make sure you eat your greens and tofu, drink your soy milk, take a vegan friendly calcium supplement if you think you need an extra boost, exercise regularly and you will have happy healthy bones for years to come!
So there you have it, another common question answered! TVK believe that no question is a silly question when it comes to a vegan lifestyle. Veganisim, on the grand scheme of things, is still a new way of thinking and people will be asking questions for years to come. We feel that by taking the time to listen and answer thoroughly with sound research, is a form of activism in itself.
At TVK, we aim to educate others in hopes that one day, they too might consider changing to a healthier and kinder way of life.