by Somya Agrawal

Calcium is an important mineral that’s crucial for the proper functioning of human bodies. Calcium works at maintaining strong bones and teeth, as well as aiding in nerve signaling, and cell communication. Calcium is the most abundant mineral in the body, with about 99% of it stored in our bones and teeth. The remaining 1% is found in our blood and is tightly regulated to support various bodily functions.

Calcium-rich foods include dairy products like milk, yogurt, and cheese, which are easily absorbed by the body. Other sources of calcium include calcium-fortified foods. Additionally, poppy, sesame, celery, and chia seeds are high in calcium. Non-vegetarian food is one of the most abundant sources of calcium, but there are also plant-based calcium sources for vegetarians such as beans, lentils, ragi, oranges, okra, kale, soybeans, and dried figs.

Key Roles of Calcium in the Body

Calcium plays several key functions in the body, including:

  • Building and maintaining strong bones and teeth
  • Assisting in muscle movement and contraction 
  • Supporting proper nerve function
  • Regulating blood clotting
  • Facilitating normal heart rhythm 
  • Promoting hormone secretion 

These functions highlight the importance of calcium in maintaining overall health and well-being. It is essential for individuals of all ages to ensure an adequate intake of calcium to support these vital bodily functions.

What are the Symptoms of Calcium-Deficiency?

Deficiency of calcium is a common medical condition, but often it has been observed that most are unaware of its deficiency and prevailing symptoms. 

Important symptoms associated with calcium deficiency include fatigue, poor oral health, muscle pain and spasms, cognitive issues, numbness and tingling in the fingers, seizures, and abnormal heart rhythm. Calcium deficiency can also lead to dental changes, cataracts, alterations in the brain, osteoporosis, severe premenstrual syndrome (PMS), and possibly mood disorders such as depression. It is important to consult a doctor if a calcium deficiency is suspected. Over time, hypocalcemia can affect the brain and cause neurologic or psychologic symptoms, such as confusion, memory loss, delirium, and depression.

Importance of Calcium for Females

Calcium is important for all but is particularly important for females due to their higher risk of developing osteoporosis and experiencing bone loss. Adequate calcium intake is crucial for maintaining strong bones and reducing the risk of fractures, especially during menopause when estrogen levels decline.

The recommended daily intake of calcium for women varies depending on age. In India, it is recommended that women under 50 consume 1,000 mg of calcium per day, while women over 50 should aim for 1,200 mg. However, it is worth noting that recent studies have shown that high calcium intake or calcium supplements may not necessarily prevent fractures. Thus, obtaining calcium from food sources like leafy greens, dairy products, and calcium-fortified foods is often considered more beneficial.

Top 5 Plant-Based Calcium Sources

  • Leafy greens: Collard greens, spinach, and kale are high in calcium and packed with other essential nutrients
  • Dairy products: Milk, yogurt, and cheese are rich sources of calcium and are easily absorbed by the body. They are considered the best sources of calcium.
  • Calcium-fortified foods: Certain foods, like almond milk and fortified cereals, are enriched with calcium to provide an additional boost of this mineral.
  • Soybeans: Cooked soybeans contain a good amount of calcium, with approximately 175 mg per cup.
  • Figs: Dried figs can be a tasty source of calcium, with around 65 mg of calcium in just two figs.

Easy-to-Cook Healthy Calcium Recipes for Vegetarians

1.  Ragi Cheela

Here’s a recipe for Ragi Cheela:


  • 1 cup ragi flour
  • 1/2 cup yogurt (curd)
  • 1/2 teaspoon red chili powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon coriander powder
  • Basic veggies like onion, tomato, and capsicum (optional)
  • Mint curd dip (for serving)
  • Soya bhurji or paneer bhurji (for filling, optional)


  • In a mixing bowl, combine the ragi flour, yogurt, red chili powder, and coriander powder. Mix well to form a smooth batter. If desired, you can add finely chopped onion, tomato, and capsicum to the batter.
  • Heat an iron griddle and grease it with a little oil or ghee.
  • Pour a ladleful of the ragi batter onto the pan and spread it into a circular shape.
  • Cook the cheela on medium heat until it turns golden brown and crispy on one side. Flip it over and cook the other side as well.
  • Repeat the process with the remaining batter to make more cheelas.
  • Serve the hot ragi cheelas with mint curd dip or any chutney of your choice.
  • For a protein-rich option, you can fill the cheelas with soya bhurji or paneer bhurji before rolling them up.

Enjoy your nutritious and tasty ragi cheela!

      2. Soybean Salad

      Here’s a recipe for Soyabean Salad:


      • Dried soybeans – 1 cup
      • Onion, tomato, capsicum, cabbage, and coriander leaves (finely chopped)
      • Shredded carrot
      • Chilli flakes
      • Lime juice
      • Lettuce leaves (for serving)


      • Soak the dried soybeans in water overnight, then drain.
      • Steam the soaked soybeans until tender and slightly sweet.
      • In a mixing bowl, combine the steamed soybeans, chopped onions, tomatoes, capsicum, cabbage, shredded carrot, and coriander leaves.
      • Add a pinch of chilli flakes for some heat.
      • Squeeze fresh lime juice over the salad for a tangy flavor.
      • Toss everything together until well combined.
      • Serve the Soybean Salad on a bed of lettuce leaves.
      • Enjoy your nutritious and delicious Soybean Salad!

      Note: This recipe is a great vegetarian option and can be enjoyed as a main dish due to the filling nature of soybeans.

          3. Kale Salad

          Here’s a recipe for Kale Salad:


          • 1 bunch of kale
          • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
          • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
          • 1 garlic clove, minced
          • Salt and pepper to taste
          • 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
          • 1/4 cup sliced almonds
          • Optional additions: cherry tomatoes, avocado, dried cranberries, 


          • In a large bowl, combine the olive oil, lemon juice, minced garlic, salt, and pepper. Whisk until well combined.
          • Add the torn kale leaves to the bowl and toss them with the dressing, making sure each leaf is coated.
          • Let the kale sit for about 10 minutes to allow the dressing to soften the leaves.
          • Sprinkle the grated Parmesan cheese and sliced almonds over the salad.
          • If desired, add any optional additions, such as cherry tomatoes, avocado, dried cranberries.
          • To combine all the ingredients, toss gently.
          • Serve the kale salad immediately and enjoy!

          This kale salad is packed with nutrients and makes for a healthy and refreshing meal. Feel free to customize it with your favorite toppings and enjoy.

              4. Spinach Avocado Smoothie

              Here’s a recipe for Spinach Avocado Smoothie:


              • 1 ripe avocado
              • 2 cups fresh spinach leaves
              • 1 ripe banana
              • 1 cup milk (preferably almond milk or otherwise any milk of your choice)
              • 1 tablespoon honey (optional, for added sweetness)
              • Juice of 1/2 lemon (optional, for a tangy flavor)


              • Neatly cut half an avocado and place it in a blender.
              • Add fresh spinach leaves, ripe banana, almond milk, honey (if desired), and lemon juice (if using) to the blender.
              • Blend all the ingredients until smooth and creamy. In case the consistency is too thick, add more almond milk to it.
              • Taste the smoothie and adjust the sweetness or tanginess according to your preference by adding more honey or lemon juice if needed.
              • Pour the smoothie into glasses and serve immediately. You can also garnish it with a few spinach leaves or a slice of avocado if desired.

              Enjoy your refreshing and nutritious spinach avocado smoothie!

                  5. Chickpea Salad

                  Here’s a recipe for Chickpea Salad:


                  • 2 cups cooked chickpeas
                  • 1 cucumber, diced
                  • 1 red bell pepper, diced
                  • 1 small red onion, finely chopped
                  • 1 cup cherry tomatoes, halved
                  • 1/4 cup fresh parsley, chopped
                  • 1/4 cup fresh mint leaves, chopped
                  • Juice of 1 lemon
                  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
                  • Salt and pepper to taste


                  • In a large bowl, combine the cooked chickpeas, cucumber, red bell pepper, red onion, cherry tomatoes, parsley, and mint leaves.
                  • Now whisk together olive oil,  lemon juice, salt, and pepper.
                  • Gently pour the dressing over the salad and toss well to combine the ingredients. 
                  • Adjust the seasoning according to your taste.
                  • Let the salad sit for at least 10 minutes to allow the flavors to meld together.
                  • Serve chilled and enjoy!

                  Chickpeas are a great source of plant-based protein and fiber, while vegetables add freshness and vitamins to the salad. It’s a healthy and satisfying dish that can be enjoyed as a light lunch or a side dish with your favorite main course.