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Vegans: How to Get Sufficient Calcium Without Dairy or Supplements
If you happen to be one of the many people who are intolerant or are allergic to dairy products, you are not alone. Some experts believe that as many as 6 out of every 10 people have some type of issue with dairy products. If more than half of our population has negative responses to dairy products, it really makes you wonder if we need dairy in our diets at all, but that is another issue.
Others have chosen a vegan diet and don’t want to consume dairy products. The fact is, however, that calcium is one of the most abundant minerals in the body. Besides being necessary for bone and tooth health, it’s also vital to skin health, normal blood pressure, and muscle development.
Our RDA of calcium has been set at 1,200mg for women and 1,000mg for men each day. However, there are plenty of other things to consider. Not all the calcium we eat is actually absorbed by the body. This means that the amount we need each day can vary greatly depending on what the source of the calcium is.
Typically our bodies only absorb about 33 percent of the calcium that is found in dairy products. Other food sources are much more easily absorbed by the body. Many people recommend spinach as a source of calcium, but we actually get even less calcium from that, as only about 5 percent of the calcium in spinach is actually absorbed.
We actually need only around 300 to 400mg of absorbed calcium each day, but since our absorption rate from dairy is so poor, we often need to eat 1200 mg in order to get that 300mgs.
Then there is the matter of vitamin D and magnesium, without which calcium cannot be absorbed properly. Those who have low levels of vitamin D were shown to only absorb about 14 percent of the calcium from foods, while those with normal vitamin D levels absorbed as much as 58 percent of calcium from the foods they consumed, according to one study.
Vitamin K is another important vitamin for the absorption of calcium. Vitamin K keeps calcium in your bones and out of your muscles and arteries.
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