Should I take calcium supplements when I eat vegan?
Calcium is one of the minerals that can be challenging to get enough of if you eat completely vegan. It is absolutely possible, but it requires, as with all other special diets, that you eat a varied diet, and familiarize yourself with where calcium comes from.
It is recommended that adults take 800mg daily and children are advised to take 600-900mg depending on their age (Nordic Nutrition Recommendations 2012).
When a food group is excluded, such as dairy products, then it is of course important that you familiarize yourself with what nutrients you got from there. Then find out which foods should replace that nutritional need instead.
In a traditional Danish diet, it is dairy products that increase calcium intake. But fortunately, calcium is also found in a great many plant-based foods, just in varying amounts.
Tips for getting enough calcium from plant-based sources:
- Use calcium enriched plant drink. It can be discussed whether it is natural or not. But it will undeniably be easier to reach 800mg of calcium daily when you use a plant drink with the same calcium content as the milk it replaces. Plant drink can be used in smoothies, for cooking, it can be drunk clean and used on breakfast products and in coffee.
- Use tahin. It can be used as a substitute for butter, you can put a teaspoon in your smoothie and you can be generous with tahini in your hummus. Tahin / sesame, is the food I know that is richest in calcium. Light tahini has just under 500mg of calcium per 100g and dark tahini has almost 1000mg of calcium per. 100g (frida.fooddata.dk). Even if you probably do not get up to 100g of sesame seeds in 1 day, then it will give you a good calcium boost.
- Eat well with legumes. Legumes are a source of many different minerals, of which calcium is one of them. If you include beans, lentils and chickpeas in your diet, then you are well on your way with calcium.
- Spis tofu. Tofu is a concentrated soy product. Soy has a nice content of calcium, and the calcium content only gets bigger as the water content is reduced and the soy is concentrated. Tofu has approx. 128mg calcium pr. 100g (Frida.fooddata.dk).
Should I take supplements?
It is always most optimal to get the nutrients through the diet. But sometimes it is not possible, and therefore it can be a good solution to take supplements to ensure that your diet is responsible and healthy for you in the long run.
It makes sense to take supplements if for one reason or another you do not eat varied and there are not enough calcium-rich foods included in your diet. The reasons for this can be many. It can be allergies that you prefer a certain diet, eg "low-carb", pickiness or just habits that you are not motivated to change. Either way, it will always be an individual assessment of your eating habits that determines whether supplements make sense to you 😊
Personally, I even take calcium supplements. I do this because I do not tolerate gluten-containing grains (eg whole wheat and rye), and therefore I have fewer sources of calcium than if I ate it.