Calcium is an essential mineral important in bones, teeth, blood, muscles and nerves.
Teeth begin calcifying (hardening) from the 4th month of pregnancy and most are completed by 16 years of age (22 for wisdom teeth). Fully formed teeth also use calcium to build more dentine throughout life and in their limited capacity to react and repair in response to tooth damage.
Calcium Sources for Vegans
Your diet should include 700mg of calcium each day. A rich and varied plant based diet will easily provide enough, since calcium is readily available in loads of plant based foods including:
- Green vegetables – broccoli, cabbage, kale, okra, watercress (but not spinach)
- sweet potatoes and butternut squash
- Beans – black turtle beans, kidney beans, soya beans
- Fortified plant milks and yogurts
- Nuts – almonds, brazil nuts, hazelnuts, pistachio nuts, walnuts
- Seeds – chia seeds, poppy seeds, sesame seeds
- Bread and anything made with fortified flour
You need to drink milk for strong teeth and bones
Calcium is needed both to grow strong teeth and bones, to maintain strong bones, and to enable teeth and bones to repair and react to damage …and milk famously is a source of calcium. However there any many other dietary sources of calcium …and there is evidence that milk consumption is associated with significantly higher risk of hip fractures, cancer, and premature death.
Tooth decay is caused by not eating/drinking enough calcium
Tooth decay is caused by bacteria fermenting free sugar into plaque acid which in turn dissolves calcium from teeth. This makes tooth enamel and dentine increasingly soft and weak until the surface collapses, leaving a cavity. Eating more calcium unfortunately will not prevent tooth decay if you are having lots of sugary snacks and drinks …but using a fluoride toothpaste and avoiding sugary snacks and drinks between mealtimes will harden your teeth and help tip the balance away from this process of demineralisation in favour of remineralisation – re-hardening of teeth.