As vegans we often get asked the rather stupid questions such as where do you get your protein. To which you probably by now respond with “plants!” However it should be noted that we an be lacking in a few other areas, especially if you are highly active or at certain life stages such as;
- Over 65 years old
- Under 18
- Breast feeding
If you fall into any of these categories then you may need to think about getting enough of other key nutrients. Today we focus on calcium:
We need calcium for many reasons, the most obvious being strong teeth and bones but it plays many other key roles to such as the control and stimulation for muscle contraction and relaxation and in the sending and signalling of nerve impulses. Calcium is so key in fact to human health that it is the mineral found in the largest quantity in our body. (1.8% on average)
So as a vegan where do you get your calcium?
Remember this is just some good ideas, there are many other sources, including fortified milks, grains and cereals.
How much do we need daily?
The following are broke down by age and gender specific needs;
- 0-12 months = 525 mg
- 1-3 years = 350 mg
- 4-6 years = 450 mg
- 7-10 years = 550 mg
- 11-18 years = 1000 mg female / 800 mg male
- Adults = 700 mg
- 70+ years = 1200mg
- Breastfeeding mothers = 1250 mg
What do we need to consider next?
One of the main and most common assisting factors in the absorption of calcium is vitamin C, hence the presence of oranges in the above table. In many cases of green leafy veg as well there will be sufficient amounts of vitamin C to help ensure absorption. But it is always good to try to combine this paring when possible.
Secondly we need to consider vitamin D. Vitamin D, like vitamin C helps to facilitate the intestinal absorption of calcium. It also is a crucial building block in creating strong bones and teeth along with calcium and boron. Vitamin E
Magnesium is also needed but in much smaller doses and not at the same time as the calcium. having good levels of magnesium will enable your body to produce the hormone responsible for the uptake and absorption of calcium.
If you can get these as well as good calcium you will be doing great. For most of you vitamin C and magnesium should be relatively easy to come by, especially if as part of your vegan diet you are eating 5-10 portions of fruit and veg daily. Vitamin D is harder to come by, but some good sources for vegans include mushrooms, sunlight (30 mins of direct contact daily) and supplementation.