best calcium sources vegan
Medically reviewed by Sara Osman,RD,PT

Introduction

Calcium is the most abundant mineral in our body and it makes up 1.9% of the body by weight[1,2].

The body gets calcium in two ways, either by eating calcium-rich foods or supplements or by drawing calcium from the body or bones specifically[4].

The borrowed calcium from bones is usually replaced at a later when the nutrient levels go up but it might not happen always [4].

Calcium salts provide rigidity to the skeleton whereas calcium ions help in the metabolic process[2].

Different hormones work with the kidney to control the calcium reserves in the body as well as excretion[4].

In case of calcium deficiency, the body will remove calcium from the bones[4].

  • Ingested calcium is mixed with digestive juice calcium to be absorbed in the proximal small intestine [2].
    Net absorption percentage increases with intakes and peaks at 35% at an intake of 400 mg and then falls off as intake increases further [2].
  • Net calcium absorption declines with ageing. It could be as high as 60% in infants and young children decrease to 15-20% in adulthood and so forth [1].
  • However, certain anti-nutrients like oxalates and phytates can bind to calcium and decrease its bioavailability [3,4].
  • Almost 99% of the calcium is stored in the bones and teeth[1,3].
  • The remaining 1% is used by the body for nerve transmission, muscular function, intracellular signalling and other such important functions.[1]
  • Bone mineral serves as the ultimate reservoir for the calcium circulating in the extracellular fluid.[2]
  • When calcium levels drop in the blood, certain hormones signal the bone to release more calcium in the bloodstream, activate vitamin D to improve absorption of calcium in the intestines and reduce calcium excretion in urine[4].
  • Some of the absorbed calcium is excreted from the body in urine, faeces and sweat [1].
  • The average calcium losses in excretion are estimated to be around 240 mg/day [7].

Body Functions

Recommended Daily Intake

how much calcium is recommended daily
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Deficiency Symptoms

Calcium Food Sources

foods high in calcium
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Excessive Intake/ Toxicity Side Effects

Groups At Risk of Calcium Deficiency

Calcium Interaction With Other Nutrients

  • Vitamin D Vitamin D intake improves calcium absorption [1]
  • Iron and ZincHigh calcium intake can possibly interfere with the absorption of iron and zinc. High calcium phosphate intake (1,360 mg/day) may decrease zinc absorption[1,3].
  • Sodium – High sodium intake increases urinary calcium excretion as it is believed that sodium competes with calcium for reabsorption in renal tubules[1,2].
  • ProteinHigh protein intake, especially animal protein and certain grains (acid ash protein) may increase urinary calcium excretion
    and is therefore thought to negatively affect calcium status [1,2,3,6].
    One study found that 0.85 mg of calcium was lost for each gram of protein in the diet[2]
  • Magnesium Magnesium deficiency may be a result of high calcium intake [3]. Calcium intakes in excess of 2600 mg/day have shown to decrease magnesium absorption[3]
  • Oxalic and Phytic acid – Foods rich in oxalic or phytic acid may inhibit calcium absorption [3]

Nutrient Profiles For Food Groups

Fruits ( i )

Raw or frozen – 22.66 mg
Canned – 18.62 mg
Dried 19.4 mg
Juice – 19.5 mg

Legumes ( i )

Flour – 196.71 mg
Dry – 164.53 mg
Raw- 89.93 mg
Canned – 40.96 mg
Cooked – 47.56 mg

Nuts & Seeds ( i )

Nuts – 74.86 mg
Seeds – 136.48 mg

Veggies ( i )

Dried – 82.16 mg
Raw or frozen – 54.50 mg
Cooked – 59.96 mg
Canned – 52.55 mg

Cereal grains & Flour ( i )

Flour – 39.50 mg
Raw grains – 32.72 mg
Cooked – 11.67 mg

Oils ( i )

Cooking oils – 0.37 mg
Other edible oils – 0.28 mg

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Medically reviewed by Sara Osman,RD,PT

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