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 body. Hence, the only sources of this major mineral are calcium rich foods and supplements.
However, calcium supplements can cause side effects as very high calcium levels in the body. Also, synthetic calcium may not be fully absorbed (non-bio available) by our body.
Hence, it is essential to ensure that you take in calcium rich foods to naturally raise your calcium levels.
Now, similar to our body, nature has presented Calcium in high proportions in plenty of foods. So, it is quite easy to maintain your calcium levels through your diet. But, if your body is not able to absorb the Calcium from your food, you may end up with Low Calcium Symptoms.
That’s why you should also focus on increasing calcium absorption from your diet.
In this post, we will go through plant based calcium rich foods. These foods are rich sources of Calcium. Also, they have complimentary nutrients that increase the absorption of Calcium from foods, thus ensuring higher bio availability.
Also, we will check out the diet tips to increase absorption of Calcium from your meals. Let’s get started!
Let’s get started!
How Does our Body Maintain Calcium Levels?
As within nature, calcium indeed is one of the most widely present minerals in our body.
Only 1% of calcium is present in the extracellular bodily fluids or plasma. Rest 99% of the calcium is deposited inside the bones and the teeth.
Levels of Calcium present in the blood plasma guide the overall balance of calcium in the body.
As soon as our body realizes that plasma calcium levels are declining, it instructs resorption of the bones (meaning removal of the bone calcium) to maintain the blood calcium level.
Usually, blood calcium levels are maintained through dietary intake. That’s you should ensure optimum intake of calcium rich foods to avoid your bones from becoming weak.
Calcium absorption and excretion from the body
Calcium is absorbed in the small intestines with the aid of vitamin D. It is excreted from the body primarily through the kidneys. Also, a small quantity of calcium is also removed through the bowels.
Mineral Equilibrium: Calcium-Magnesium-Phosphorus
The three key mineral elements of the body, Calcium, Magnesium, and Phosphorus go hand in hand in performing major body functions.
Calcium helps in the formation of bone and teeth, but it also plays a role in keeping the heart and muscles working the right way by governing contractions.
Magnesium is also a constituent of bone but serves as the principal player for controlling potassium and calcium absorption from diet. It also assists with nervine electrical activity and helps with the metabolism of carbohydrates.
Phosphorus is the second most abundant mineral in the body. It is necessary for bone growth, kidney function, cellular health and acid-alkaline balance.
As these three elements work together to regulate the functioning and maintain the respective balance amongst themselves. That’s why deficiency of even one can lead to a huge imbalance in the other two mineral levels.
Plant Based Calcium Rich 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
- Figs 40 g contains 54 mg Calcium
- 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)
Health Tips to Increase Calcium Absorption in Your Body
If you are struggling to maintain your calcium levels despite taking a calcium rich foods in your diet, then you should be concerned.
Do get medical advise as your body is losing more calcium than it is able to absorb from foods. Additionally, you can take following steps to ensure better absorption of calcium in your body:
1. Reduce or Stop caffeine and alcohol
Both caffeine and alcohol interfere with Calcium absorption in the body. Also, alcohol actually stimulates bone erosion.
Moderate quantities would not hurt anybody taking enough Calcium in the diet. However, for those struggling with low 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.
2. Reduce your intake of Common Salt (Sodium Chloride)
Common Salt inhibits Calcium absorption in the body. It 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 your bones weak.
3. STOP intake of Soft Drinks and Soda
Phosphoric acid present in soft drinks leads to increased excretion of calcium via urine, hence creating calcium deficiency.
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. This also reduces calcium absorption and promotes inflammation in the body.
4. Get Active
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.
5. Good Sleep
Sufficient Calcium in our bloodstream actually assists with good 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.
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.
6. Increase your exposure to the Sun | Vitamin D
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.
Sufficient levels of Vitamin D in the body promote formation of healthy bones and help to maintain blood plasma Calcium levels as well.
7. Ensure your Vitamin K intake is sufficient
Vitamin K assists to transport Calcium from the bloodstream to the bones. It is best absorbed from foods (fermented foods specifically).
To ensure absorbed calcium leads to strong bones, you would need to add Vitamin K rich foods in your diet.
8. Healthy Fats
Healthy fats increase the absorption of calcium in the body. Fatty acids in the meals greatly enhance availability of calcium in the intestines by as much as 40%. Combine Omega 3 rich foods with calcium foods in your diet.
9. Magnesium Rich Foods
Magnesium plays an important role in Calcium balance and absorption from the foods. Increase your intake of Magnesium rich foods along with Calcium in the diet.
Before you Go!
Now we want to hear from you. What are your best go to calcium rich foods? Which ways do you find most effective?
Do write to us for any queries and feedback. We will get back to you the soonest.
Wishing you vibrant health!