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High Oxalate Foods and Calcium Absorption

Several followers of my Eating Plan have asked me about calcium absorption with high oxalate foods, like beets and spinach, and whether they should avoid high oxalate vegetables. High oxalate vegetables contain many important nutrients beyond just calcium and should definitely be part of a bone healthy diet. It is true that oxalate can adversely affect the absorption of calcium. The good news is that when the 1200 mg. calcium RDA was set it took into account that calcium absorption varies significantly according to the food so you don’t have to worry about absorption rates and can just focus on the goal of 1200 mg. calcium per day.

The recommended amount of calcium is based on the assumption that you will consume foods with varying degrees of calcium availability so the RDA accommodates for the fact that you will absorb less calcium from some foods than others. I would be concerned if the only high calcium foods you ever ate were all high oxalate but if you are consuming a diet with a variety of high calcium foods beyond high oxalate vegetables then it shouldn’t be a problem.

My Eating Plan includes calcium from a variety of sources so you should be fine including the high oxalate vegetables on my Eating Plan. It would be a mistake to leave out some of the healthiest vegetables just because the oxalate reduces calcium availability. So enjoy your spinach and beets along with all their bone healthy nutrients.

Photo used with permission from the Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.
Photo taken by Laura Berger (student).


posted on 11/18/2017