Sunday, February 22, 2009

What's in kale? Calcium

(Photo: some of our garden kale in early Spring 2008 - not a photo today as we got more snow yesterday!)

Many of the brassica greens are good sources of available calcium, required for building and maintaining bones and teeth, muscle contractions and nerve conduction, blood pressure control, along with blood clotting. Along with the traditionally promoted dairy foods and other foods that are fortified with additional calcium (such as some soy milk, tofu, and orange juice among others), kale and other brassica greens such as collards, turnip, mustard, and bok choy can be substantial dietary sources of calcium for your diet.

Here are some examples of the calcium content for brassica vegetables:
Collard greens, cooked, 1 cup - 357 mg
Turnip greens, cooked, 1 cup - 249 mg
Kale, cooked, 1 cup - 179 mg
Bok choy, cooked, 1 cup - 158 mg
Mustard greens, cooked, 1 cup - 152 mg
Broccoli, cooked, 1 cup - 94 mg

The recommended dietary intake of calcium for adults age 19 through 50 years is 1000 mg per day from food and/or supplements. An intake of 1200 mg of calcium is recommended for those age 51 years and older. By looking at the figures in the above chart, one can see that daily intake from a variety of brassica greens can provide significant calcium to a healthy diet. 

In fact, a higher percentage of calcium is absorbed from some of these brassica vegetables (including kale) when compared to milk. An example to illustrate this is the following: 
• Milk contains 300 mg calcium/cup x 32% absorbed = 96 mg calcium absorbed    
• Kale contains 197 mg calcium/cup raw x 42% absorbed = 83 mg absorbed 
One can easily see from this example how kale can be an important dietary source calcium source for forming and maintaining healthy bones and teeth, along with the other essential functions that calcium performs in our body. Thus I have a question. Why not "Got Kale?"

A very good resource regarding calcium requirements and food sources for people following a vegan diet is The Vegetarian Resource Group.

Enjoy eating your kale (and all the other brassica greens) while you picture those calcium molecules building or maintaining your bones and all its other vital functions in your body. I do!

Where kale is more than decoration on my plate!
Diana Dyer, MS, RD


Anonymous said...

Kale performing amazingly for me. My teeth have many repair: caps, root canals. I am 60 years old. Through a series of events they got to a place where they all hurt, badly. I had been brushing them with a gritty toothpaste, drinking way too much wine, eating a lot of acid food and the final straw was getting my teeth cleaned at the dentist (no cavities, they looked good). My teeth became so demineralized that they hurt even when not eating. Mildly cool things hurt so much it is like Chinese mustard sensation in my mouth.

To get to the point. The other day, when my teeth were hurting so much I didn't know what to do... I went into the garden and started chewing on Russian kale leaves, the pain stopped immediately..

Since then I have been carrying fresh kale leaves around with me and chewing them throughout the day..

If I have teeth pain, after eating something (nutritious), I chew kale leaves and the pain stops immediately.

My teeth are getting less sensitive. Kale is helping remineralize my teeth..

Anonymous said...

Hey, kale chewer: I'm really curious -- did this ultimately solve your problem? Do you still chew kale? Have you tried other types of kale (eg from the market)?

Anonymous said...

Ok. Kale stewed with broccoli, squash, zucchini, some white fish or chicken. Eat for a month and you will have remineralization. Yes enamel growing to make your teeth white again. Guaranteed. No sugars, honey. Only stevia in teas. Much love.

Anonymous said...

I love kale! I use three cups of kale in a surprisingly-sweet smoothie that I drink every day to help with a calcium deficiency. :)

Anonymous said...

Does the kale have to be cooked to get the most calcium? I add it raw to my smoothies.

Diana Dyer said...

Dear Anon (May 5, 2013),
I have done some searching in various data bases to see if I can find an answer to your good question without any luck. I have written one of my colleagues who has done a lot of research on calcium absorption from various foods to see if she can steer me to a resource. She may even some unpublished data to share. I'll post up a response if I find something definitive. In the meantime, just enjoy it both raw and cooked!
Diana Dyer, MS, RD

Anonymous said...

Wonderful kale everything! Today I posted your link on my website in honor of National Kale Day! Thank you so much!