There's a lot more to vegan bone health than calcium. Here's the quick and dirty on eating for healthy vegan bones, plus recipes!
Navigating the research when it comes to vegan calcium is a little bit tricky. The info below comes from three sources that I trust for vegan nutritional information: The Vegetarian Resource Group, Dr. Jack Norris, and Ginny Messina (The Vegan RD).
This post is another installment in my series on common vegan nutrition questions. I've learned so much researching this series! You can read about vegan iron-rich foods and vegan protein sources from my previous posts in the Synchcast series.
Vegan Bone Health: Calcium and Beyond
When we talk about vegan calcium, what we're really worried about is bone health, right? Because calcium is critical to bone health. The "Got Milk" ads hammered that into our brains. What they leave out, though, is that calcium is only one piece of the bone health puzzle.
Bone health is a lot more complicated than taking a calcium supplement. Though many vegans and omnivores alike should probably be taking one if we aren't getting the recommended 1000 mg per day. Healthy bones require potassium, vitamin C, calcium, magnesium, and protein. (source: Ginny Messina)
The good news is that you can get these bone health essentials easily from plant-based foods. Here are 10 foods to eat for healthy bones, plus some recipe ideas for each one.
The musical fruit is a protein party. Beans also give you a healthy dose of much-needed magnesium for bone health. For example, a cup of cooked black beans provides 30 percent of your RDA for magnesium. Not too shabby!
Dark and leafies like kale and collards provide lots of calcium. Softer greens like spinach and Swiss chard are packed with potassium.
Tofu prepared with calcium sulfate (most tofu is) gives you the ol' one-two: calcium and protein. A quarter block of tofu has 55 percent of your calcium needs and 13 grams of protein. It's also got 12 percent of your magnesium needs, so really it's a 1-2-3 punch.
4. Nuts and Seeds
Nuts and seeds are so easy to add to basically anything, and they give you a nice combo of magnesium and protein. Just grab a handful and toss it into your bowl. An ounce of roasted pumpkin seeds has 37 percent of your daily magnesium. An ounce of roasted almonds has 20 percent of your magnesium and 7 percent of your daily calcium. Eat 'em!
Fun fact: a medium-sized potato with the skin on has as more postassium than a banana! The skin is key, since a lot of the potato's nutrition is in that skin. That humble potato provides 26 percent of your daily potassium, 12 percent of your magnesium, and 28 percent of your vitamin C. It also has 4 grams of protein. What!