Q

If I do not consume dairy products, how can I get the calcium I need on a plant-based diet?

Despite what the dairy industry claims, milk is not the only way to obtain calcium and maintain strong bones and teeth.  There are many plant sources that will supply calcium while leaving out the cholesterol and saturated fat found in milk from animals.  It is recommended for the average adult under 50 to consume approximately 1000mg of calcium per day.  For those people over 50, the amount increases to 1200mg  calcium per day.  Luckily, more common foods in a vegan diet are being fortified – everything from soy milk to orange juice to granola bars now provides an ample amount of calcium.  An 8-oz glass of fortified soy milk or rice milk provides 300mg of calcium.  Tofu processed with calcium can provide 250mg in a 4 oz. serving.  Blackstrap molasses, soy yogurt, and collard greens are also excellent sources.  Like any other nutrient, calcium is best obtained by eating a variety of foods.  A vegan who lives on a diet based heavily on Swedish Fish and coffee is sure to run the risk of a deficiency.  So, if you think you would benefit from calcium supplement, it is important to note this mineral is best absorbed in amounts of 500mg or less.