Calcium on a plant-based diet

How do I get calcium on a plant-based diet? Plant-based diets are gaining traction and have been featured heavily in the media as a way to save the world. A common concern when transitioning to a more plant-based diet is how to meet the recommended intake of micro nutrients, more specifically calcium as it is the most abundant mineral in the body. Our body maintains the levels of calcium regardless of dietary intake.

Why is calcium important?

Our bones contain 99% of calcium where it provides the rigid framework of the skeleton. Muscles attach to the skeleton and are dependent on calcium for movement. Bones also act as a reservoir for calcium to be used when there is a need for hormonal function.

What is the recommended daily intake?

Recommended daily intake depends on the lifespan and age of the individual. See Table, more details here :

Lifespan Age RDI mg/day
Infants 0-12 months 210-270
Children 1-8 years 500-800
9-11 years 1000
12-18 years 1300
Men 19-70 years 1000
>70 years 1300
Women 19-50 years 1000
51-70 years 1300
>70 years 1300

What should I eat to meet my recommended daily intake?

Here are 9 sources of plant-based foods that are high in calcium.

plant-based sources of calcium

At home, I have taught my teens how to make basic hummus. They rinse canned chickpeas (2X400g cans) under running water, add 1 clove of garlic, a tsp of cumin seeds, some peppercorns, lime juice and blend using water to thin as required. Salt is added to taste. Chickpeas are a great source of calcium with 200g of canned chickpeas giving you 90mg….win-win!

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School holidays and family recipes

These school holidays have been fun. My teenagers have discovered my stash of family recipes.

They are learning cooking, important skills especially with the rise in obesity. Being time poor means quick, frozen foods are easy to shop and reheat! A frozen vegetarian lasagna or a curry gets dinner on to the table within a few minutes. However, what we think is quick and easy has long-term consequences. We, now, know that convenience and discretionary foods are high in salt, sugar and fat and this is a deadly combination. It makes for a calorie dense but a nutritionally poor meal.

So, teach your children basic cooking skills, when taught at an early age it instills a habit of planning, possibly gardening and cooking meals at home. For example, a simple plant-based pasta sauce often just needs a can of tomato, a spoonful of tomato paste, olive oil, herbs, a few cloves of garlic, salt and pepper to taste. And adding some freshly grated parmesan to top it off takes it to another level 🙂 Yumm…so easy. Now, this is our staple, our favourite, my teens make it themselves and make it well. This is our family recipe 🙂

My teenagers know that we grow basil and oregano, we buy organic pasta, tomato passata and cans in bulk from Costco and we plan the meal the day before. They gather all the ingredients, the pan, the spatula and all; start chopping and cooking when ready. They bicker, banter, grate the cheese, nick some, share some and then the sauce is ready. Thennnn, the pasta goes on to boil!! drives me crazy, because I would have put the pasta first and then got the sauce done! I guess time teaches. Yet, our family recipe is alive!

So, dust off those family recipes, and teach your children basic cooking, a life skill! 🙂


Have you planned any changes this year?

New year, new beginnings…isn’t that the mantra at the beginning of every new year! I hear of so many plans at catch-ups – plans of self-care, eating right, losing weight, drinking less and so on. Ambitious yes 🙂 and sometimes discouraging too…..especially as it gets easy to fall off the wagon once school starts, activities fill the days and we are running keeping it all together. Too many changes are hard to make and motivation hard to drum up!

How about we look at ‘a’ change?

Eating right – now here is when I say, add a plant-based salad to your meal, start small, any meal in a day and build up the number of days, it will become a habit soon! We are loving mini cucumbers at the moment, chilled yum :-)!

What are your changes?