No dairy? Simple ways to make sure you’re getting your calcium as a vegan

Calcium is essential for strong bones. Both men and women begin losing bone mass in their thirties. This bone loss can be quite rapid and can lead to osteoporosis. When bones lose their density they become weak and prone to fracture.

We often think about seniors and broken hips. However, compressed spines and curved spines are just as common. Osteoporosis also leads to a lack of strength and mobility.

Calcium is also required for sending messages to your nerves and muscles. It helps blood clot and forms your teeth. Because calcium is generally found in dairy products like yogurt, milk and cheese, it can be difficult to get enough on a vegan diet.

The following tips will help you make sure you’re getting your calcium.

* Drink fortified beverages – Orange juice, almond milk, soy milk and other milk substitutes often come fortified with calcium and vitamin D. One glass of fortified orange juice can give you half your day’s recommended supply.

* Eat dark leafy greens – You might be surprised to learn that dark leafy vegetables like spinach, kale, and collards have calcium in them. So too do cruciferous vegetables like broccoli and bok choy.

* Blackstrap molasses, beans, and soy-based foods also have calcium in them. If you worry that you’re not getting the calcium you need, taking a supplement can help. Make sure, however, that you’re getting a vegan source of calcium.

Another common supplement for vegans and vegetarians is vitamin B.

Protein is essential for survival. Your muscles, tendons, skin and organs are created from protein. Proteins make hormones, neurotransmitters, and even enzymes to digest the food that you eat. You cannot function without protein.

Many vegetarians and vegans do not get enough protein in their diet. This isn’t because it’s not possible – it is very possible to get protein from plants. However, it takes a bit more attention to not only what you eat but also how much you eat. The following foods provide a good amount of protein and can help you thrive on a vegan diet.

 

Nuts and Seeds

* Almonds 30g protein per cup

* Chia seeds 16g protein per cup

* Hemp seeds 10g protein per ounce

* Sunflower seeds 23g protein per cup

 

Beans

* Baked tofu 20g protein per cup

* Black beans 15g protein per cup

* Edamame 17g per cup

* Garbanzo beans 15g protein per cup

* Great northern beans 15g protein per cup

* Lentils 18g protein per cup

 

Grains

* Brown rice 5g per cup

* Couscous 6g protein per cup

* Quinoa 8g protein per cup

 

Making sure that you eat a variety of beans, nuts, seeds, and grains can help ensure not only that you get enough protein but also a well-rounded source of protein. Generally speaking, you should get around 50 grams or more of protein each day, and if you exercise then you need even more. Many doctors and health experts recommend striving for 25 grams of protein at each meal.

Are you getting enough iron? Many people don’t get enough iron in their diet. It’s an important element because it carries oxygen throughout your body. It’s required for digestion and many functions on a cellular level. Without enough iron you will feel fatigued and can get sick. Women and children are particularly susceptible to iron deficiency and supplementation is often recommended to prevent anaemia.

A vegan diet isn’t traditionally rich in iron. Red meat and shellfish are both easy sources of iron. However, there are many vegan options. The following are the vegan choices that are richest in iron:

Seeds

Squash and pumpkin seeds are among the highest in iron. One ounce contains 4mg of iron or 23 percent of your recommended daily value. An ounce of sesame seeds also contains 23 percent of your daily value, sunflower seeds have 11 percent and flax seeds have 9 percent of your daily value. As you can see, a handful of seeds can help you get the daily iron you need. But they’re not the only food that is high in iron.

 

Nuts

Nuts including cashews, pine nuts, hazelnuts, peanuts, and almonds all have a good amount of iron. An ounce of cashews has 1.7 mg or 9 percent of your daily value. An ounce of pine nuts also contains 9 percent of your daily value, Hazelnuts, peanuts, almonds, and pistachios all have 7 percent, and Macadamia nuts have 6 percent of your recommended daily value.

 

Beans

White beans and lentils have a good amount of iron in them. A cup of cooked beans has 6.6mg and 37 percent of your daily value. Other beans that are high in iron include soybeans, kidney beans, chickpeas, lima and navy beans, black beans, pinto beans and black-eyed peas. For many vegans, a diet of beans and rice is a staple because it also provides a complete protein.

 

Whole Grains

Whole grains also have iron, and quinoa is the highest with 15 percent of your daily value in a cup. Oats, barley and rice also contain a good amount of iron and fortified grains and cereals may contain more.

 

Finally, let’s not forget dark leafy greens like spinach and chard which have 36 percent of your daily value in a cup. There are more items like chocolate and soy that have iron. The goal is to make sure that you get enough. If not, your doctor may recommend supplementation.