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If you have been dairy-free for a while, you may catch yourself wondering how to get enough Calcium on a plant-based diet. It’s a natural and legitimate question, especially since you’ve always been told that milk is the richest source of Calcium from foods which are available to us.* 
What matters more however is how much Calcium you absorb and when you look at Calcium from this angle, green vegetables take the lead! For example would you believe you absorb 50% of Calcium from Pack Choi versus 30% from cow’s milk? (source) You may be surprised but repeated studies have shown that dairy consumption isn’t associated with stronger bones or fewer fractures (study, study, study
It get’s better… 
Not only does eating a variety of grains, potatoes, fruits, vegetables and legumes supply your body with sufficient amounts of Calcium, you also get other nutrients like Magnesium, Manganese, Boron, Silica, vitamin K, to name a few, all of which you need for your bones to be strong and flexible. Plus there are other benefits.  
By cutting dairy out you significantly reduce the amount of saturated fat, animal protein and salt (especially in cheese), all of which challenges your immune system triggering inflammation inside your body. 
How much Calcium do you need? 
RDA (daily recommended amount) is between 500 – 800 mg as per recommendation from World Health Organisation (source, source) when following a whole food plant-based diet. 
When you eat a varied unprocessed plant-based diet, you’ll get this amount comfortably and so much more! 
It’s when you focus on nourishment over fuel, your whole body starts to thrive.  
It’s from the powerful stream of phytochemicals, antioxidants, fibre and other nutrients you get with each meal, when you build strong bones, immunity, detoxify well and allow your body to work like clockwork. 
7 ways to get enough Calcium on a plant-based diet 
1. Eat whole plant foods at least 80% of the time. 
When you eat mostly unprocessed plants, a cornucopia of nutrients especially from fruits and vegetables keep your blood ph in a healthy range. This means there is no need for your bones to let go off calcium to balance acidity from animal protein. 
In reality it can be really easy and quick. 
You can have for breakfast porridge or a vegan breakfast bowl, snacking on fruits ( 2 oranges have 100 mg Calcium*) and having as your mains grains or potatoes with lentil chilli. 
2. Greens a day keeps the doctor away. 
Don’t call it a day until you’ve had at least 1 full cup filled with green vegetables rich in Calcium. Good choices are collard greens, kale, Pack choi, broccoli, mustard greens, or cabbage. 
You can eat them steamed, or raw and if you are stuck for time, there is nothing easier than making a green smoothie with a few servings of greens to get an extra boost. 
Greens a day keeps the doctor away
3. Have a minimum of 1 cup of cooked beans a day. 
Legumes rich in Calcium are pinto beans, Edamame, kidney beans and navy beans and are so much fun to use! Apart from the obvious addition to your mains, get adventurous and play around with making different dips. For example navy beans are gorgeous with garlic and fresh herbs. Or how about making a little treat from kidney beans, coco powder and dates and making a delicious chocolaty spread? (recipe) 
4. Seed it up – a little goes a long way. 
Seeds are very nutrient rich, after all a whole plant grows eventually out of them! That’s why adding 2 sources of seeds to your menu daily is a great way to boost health of your bones. You can add 1 tbs of ground flax or chia seeds to your smoothie, morning breakfast or salad dressing. The second source can be a handful of mixed natural seeds or whole natural almonds served with your lunch. And since a good source of Calcium are also sesame seeds, how about adding tahini paste to your home-made hummus? 
Seeds on vegitables
5. Watch out for salt. 
Too much salt in food makes your body excrete calcium in the urine together with sodium and that makes bones weaker. 
What are the main sources of salt? 
Processed foods of any kind including crackers, bread, condiments and sauces, crisps etc. It’s also worth reading food labels as even tinned beans often have extra salt added to them. To keep salt at healthy levels instead of cooking with salt, add it on your plate, rinse tinned beans and keep condiments, sauces and crisps to a minimum. 
6. Treat caffeine as saffron. 
Caffeine leaches Calcium from your bones making them weaker. 
That’s why rather than boosting your energy levels with afternoon coffee, it’s much better to go for a walk (which will further support the health of your bones). 
Having 1 cup of coffee a day isn’t the end of the world but also do watch out for hidden sources of caffeine like energy drinks, fizzy drinks or energy boosting powders or vitamin supplements which often have caffeine added. 
7. Walk, climb, dance. 
Keeping active, ideally in the fresh, outdoor air is one of the most important things you can do for your bone health. 
Putting your body under healthy stress coming from exercise, makes your bones rebuild themselves to be stronger. It needs to be weight bearing exercise (something where you overcome gravity) like walking, running, or playing tennis in order for that to be effective. 
And while you move your body, make it count for two and get some sunshine for vitamin D also. Vitamin D is essential to keep Calcium inside your bones, so cheers to your next climbing trip! 
We are naturally programmed to worry about deficiencies. That’s simply how we evolved. But don’t let fear stop you from pursuing the most nourishing, compassionate and rewarding lifestyle there is. Plants are your friends and as long as you keep your food natural and as close to it’s original state as possible, you are getting plenty. 
Cheers to you and a delicious way of living. 
Source: * 
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