FoodSesame seeds, a forgotten calcium powerhouse in non-dairy diets

Sesame seeds, a forgotten calcium powerhouse in non‑dairy diets

A wealth of calcium is hidden in these inconspicuous grains.
A wealth of calcium is hidden in these inconspicuous grains.
Images source: © Adobe Stock

1:27 PM EST, January 18, 2024

The Institute of Food and Nutrition suggests a healthy adult's required intake of calcium is roughly 1g per day. This proportion is quite significant, especially for those people who minimize or exclude dairy products from their diet. So, how can one supplement calcium in a non-dairy diet? These seeds are definitely worth considering.

The significance of Calcium

Calcium is crucial for developing, growing, and regenerating bone tissue. Approximately 99 percent of this mineral in the body is found in bones and teeth. Calcium assists in balancing muscle contractions by being released during muscle stimulation. It also helps relax smooth muscles surrounding blood vessels, subsequently lowering blood pressure. It also contributes to the blood clotting ability.

Many foods naturally contain calcium, with dairy products as the primary source. There are also various calcium-fortified products and calcium supplements in the market. Importantly, the absorption and maintenance of this macronutrient require the presence of vitamin D and magnesium. It's noteworthy that calcium absorption can be disrupted by preservatives, alcohol, coffee, and tea, leading to calcium loss from the body - an example being the consumption of excess salt. Excessive protein intake can also limit calcium absorption.

Supplementing Calcium in a Non-dairy Diet

One such product rich in calcium is canned fish like sprats in oil or tomato sauce. However, among plant-based products, sesame seeds are an impactful source of calcium. Surprisingly, these seeds supply more calcium than cow's milk or eggs.

These inconspicuous grains are a rich source of calcium.
These inconspicuous grains are a rich source of calcium.© Pexels | Vie Studio

While cow's milk contains about 112 mg of this macronutrient per 3.5 ounces, sesame seeds provide as much as 975 mg per 3.5 ounces, which is nearly 0.035 ounces. Hence, 3.5 ounces of sesame seeds are sufficient to satisfy an adult's daily calcium needs. However, it is important to note that this data is applicable to unhulled sesame. Hulled sesame contains considerably lower amounts of calcium - around 130 mg per 3.5 ounces.

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