Friday, August 15, 2003

How can I get enough calcium naturally with a vegan diet?

I exercise a lot and I'm thinking about going vegan.
I'm afraid I won't get enough calcium and proteins with this sort of diet...
What should I eat?

Answer on How can I get enough calcium naturally with a vegan diet?

It's tough.


"After adjusting for age alone, the vegans had a 37% higher fracture rate than meat-eaters. After adjusting for age, smoking, alcohol consumption, body mass, physical activity, marital status, births, and hormone replacement, the vegans still had a 30% higher fracture rate. Meat-eaters, fish-eaters, and lacto-ovo fracture rates did not differ in any of the analyses performed."

"A 2009 cross-sectional study of lacto-ovo vegetarian women in Slovakia found that their higher homocysteine (16.5 vs. 12.5 ┬Ámol/l; 78% vs. 45% were elevated) and lower vitamin B12 levels (246 vs. 302 pmol/l; 47% vs. 28% were deficient) were associated with significantly lower bone mineral density in the femur (34). Participants were not allowed to have been taking vitamin or mineral supplements. The researchers did not measure calcium intake or vitamin D status."

"The calcium in kale, broccoli, collard greens, and soymilk is all absorbed relatively well.
The calcium in spinach, Swiss chard, and beet greens is not well absorbed, due to their high content of oxalates, which bind calcium.
Calcium supplements can inhibit iron absorption if eaten at the same time."

"Vitamin D3 - cholecalciferol; is derived from animals (usually from sheep's wool or fish oil).
Vitamin D2 - ergocalciferol; is vegan and usually obtained from yeast.

Large, single doses of vitamin D2 do not last as long as large doses of D3. In a 2004 study by Armas et al. (17), subjects were given one dose of 50,000 IU of vitamin D2 or vitamin D3. Vitamin D2 was absorbed just as well as vitamin D3. However, after three days, blood levels of 25(OH)D started dropping rapidly in the subjects who were given vitamin D2, whereas those who received vitamin D3 sustained high levels for two weeks before dropping gradually."


Protein is made up of amino acids. While meat, eggs, dairy products contain all the amino acids needed for complete protein, most veggies only contain some of them (or weak versions). You need to eat a variety and a lot of veggies every day so your body can combine them into the complete protein it needs. One of thise amino acids, lysine, is found only in legumes (beans, peas...). You should eat at least one serving, three is better, of legumes every day to get complete protein.


More from

"The most important thing to be aware of regarding protein in vegan diets is that you need to get enough of the amino acid lysine. Make sure you read the section on lysine below and check out the high-lysine foods. Beyond that, there is evidence that erring on the side of more protein (1.0 to 1.1 grams of protein per kg of healthy body weight per day for adults) is a good idea, and especially for people 60 years and older."