Calcium is the most abundant mineral within the human body, most of which resides in the bones. People who do not consume dairy products can get necessary calcium in their diets through plant sources. Leafy vegetables and beans provide healthy doses of calcium; however, other conditions must be met in order for the body to fully absorb available calcium minerals from foods. According to the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine, diets high in animal proteins, such as red meat, eggs and poultry cause available calcium minerals to be excreted through the urine. Vitamin D and magnesium must also be part of the diet for healthy calcium absorption.
Leafy Green Vegetables
As much as 99 percent of the body's available calcium resides in the bones, with the remaining 1 percent found in bodily tissues and fluids, according to the Vegetarian Society. When dietary calcium intake is low, the body will extract available reserves from the bones for use within cell metabolism processes, nerve impulse transmission or the needs of the muscles. As calcium makes up a certain percentage of soil environments, leafy green vegetables that grow in the soil contain moderate to high amounts of calcium. Vegetables that have a high calcium content include broccoli, brussels sprouts, kale and turnip, collard and mustard greens, according to Ellen's Kitchen, a diet and nutrition reference site. Spinach also contains a high calcium content; however, the way spinach holds onto calcium makes it difficult for the body to fully absorb it.
Legumes include most bean plant varieties, most of which are rich sources of calcium. According to the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine, legume plants include navy beans, pinto beans, garbanzo beans and chickpeas. In addition to calcium, legumes contain essential magnesium, which works along with calcium to build bone strength.
Specialty items may also contain high levels of calcium depending on how they are packaged. According to Ellen's Kitchen, plant-based beverages such as carrot juice, soy-based beverages, and calcium-fortified apple and orange juices may provide high amounts of calcium. Other specialty foods include sesame butter or tahini, tofu (a soy-based product) and nutritional yeast brands, which are a common part of vegetarian diets.
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