Can I get enough calcium eating a plant-based diet?

A diverse, plant-based diet is one of the best available sources of calcium—and lets you avoid the deleterious effects associated with dairy products.

Great sources of calcium include green leafy vegetables, nuts, oranges, kidney beans, lima beans, whole grains, Swiss chard, lentils, raisins, broccoli, kale, celery, tofu, and romaine lettuce.

One reason why Americans have such a high incidence of osteoporosis (or weakening of the bones) isn’t a lack of dietary calcium but an excess of animal protein, which leaches calcium from the bones.

In fact, did you know that the countries with the highest rate of dairy consumption, including the United States, New Zealand, Britain, and Sweden, also have the highest rates of osteoporosis? Although their citizens consume massive amounts of dietary calcium, the excessive protein in that milk, cheese, steak, fish, and eggs always trumps this important mineral, leaving them with a net deficit.

Meanwhile, people in rural China, who consume one-third the amount of dairy we do, have almost zero cases of osteoporosis. Dr. John McDougall, author of The McDougall Program for a Healthy Heart, has scoured the medical literature on the topic and has yet to find one case of dietary calcium deficiency in humans—so long as they consumed an adequate number of calories. So no milk mustache for you!