The dairy industry has you wrapped around their fingers.
They claim that milk and mucous are an excellent source of calcium, and they've spent millions of dollars on celebrity advertising to make you believe it. The irony? Osteoporosis remains a major public health threat -- and 80 percent of those affected are women. Lucky us.
So how do you protect your precious bones?
Your body is kind of like that co-dependent boyfriend you had in college: it's super needy when it comes to calcium. And as vegan chicas, magnificent greens are your bones' deepest desire. Try to eat lots of your meals on a bed of kale or collard greens. Saute some spinach or bok choy and put it on your sandwich for a nutrition boost. Plant-sourced calcium has been shown to increase bone mineral density, which decreases your risk of osteoporosis. Bonus tip: Give seaweed a go! Sea vegetables are also an amazing calcium and mineral source.
Related: Kale Caesar Salad
Calcium is a social butterfly; it doesn't like to be alone. It's best absorbed when paired with some of its buddies, like vitamin C. Enjoy a piece of fruit with your calcium-stacked meals to increase that bone strength. Calcium can also easily build awesome bone strength and structure when its other BFFs, vitamin K, phosphorus and magnesium join the party.
Adding almonds to your diet will pack a powerful calcium punch. One cup of almonds has MORE calcium than a glass of milk. This calcium is coupled with magnesium, so enjoy your almond milk, almond butter or a handful of raw almonds for a snack. For bone-building trail mix, add Brazil nuts and walnuts. You can try topping your salad with calcium-rich sesame seeds, or dip your veggies in a tahini paste.
Soak Up the Sun
Get your 30-minute daily dose of sunshine. Expose your face, arms and legs, if possible. Sun exposure provides a generous amount of vitamin D, which drastically increases absorption of calcium in the small intestines. (Just don't use this as an excuse to Snookie yourself into a gross shade of burnt brown, cause skin cancer ain't pretty.)
Shake Your Booty
Our bones, quite literally, hold us together. Duh. We owe it to them to keep them sturdy and tough as nails. All of your bones want to be used. Whether you dance the night away or run marathons, meaningful movement prevents bone loss. Increase the amount of bone you have by lifting some weights or dropping by the yoga studio. When you do weight-bearing exercise, your body takes an initial hit but almost magically rebuilds the bone back even stronger. The more exercise you do, the more reinforced your bone matrix becomes. Awesome!
Caffeine and calcium do not get along. Caffeine is a diuretic, and it makes you "go" like a race horse. When you urinate frequently, you are expending excess calcium that your body could use. Another kicker? Booze is toxic to bone-cell formation, so drink your cocktails in moderation to maintain proper bone regeneration. (Try this soy milk chocolate martini!) Try consuming your calcium-rich foods at meals where you do not consume more than one alcoholic or caffeinated beverage.
Calcium is necessary to just about every cell in your body. You need it for strong bones and teeth but also for nerves and muscles and proper blood clotting. Our bodies get calcium from the food we eat or else they have to take it from our bones. We need a regular supply source in our meals, so our bones are not weakened when our other cells needs extra calcium to survive. Integrate building a strong relationship with calcium and your body today; your bones will thank you tomorrow.
What do you think of the "vegans don't get enough calcium" argument? Join the discussion and leave a comment below. Also, visit our website for more articles on vegan and vegetarian living!
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