What Foods & Minerals Deplete Calcium?

Calcium, the most abundant mineral in the human body, supports the formation of strong bones and teeth, aids in muscle contractions, maintains fluid balance and promotes the transmission of nerve signals. With all these functions, it is easy to believe that calcium is vital to your survival. Although you may consume the recommended amount of calcium, provided by the National Institutes of Medicine Food and Nutrition Board as 1,200 mg per day, consuming some foods and minerals may cause calcium levels to deplete.


Dark, green leafy vegetables, such as spinach, kale and cabbage contain a chemical substance known as oxalic acid. Oxalic acid in large quantities, larger than can be consumed in foods, is toxic. Even at normal levels of consumption oxalic acid can cause detrimental health effects. Once ingested, oxalic acid from foods binds to minerals, such as calcium, forming a salt compound. By binding to calcium, oxalic acid inhibits its absorption and depletes the calcium in the body. Other vegetables also contain oxalic acid, including broccoli, cauliflower, chives and some types of beans.


Legumes, the classification of plant-based foods that contain seed pods, include foods such as peanuts, chickpeas and various types of beans. Legumes contain a chemical known as phytic acid. Phytic acid functions to store phosphorus for the plant, but in humans it can lead to mineral deficiencies. Phytic acid binds to calcium therefore interfering with its absorption. To decrease the phytic acid content of legumes and reduce the risk of calcium depletion, soak them overnight prior to cooking.


Everyone knows that sodium, more commonly known as table salt, can trigger adverse effects in the body especially when consumed in large amounts. The National Institutes of Medicine Food and Nutrition Board recommend keeping your sodium intake to 1,500 mg per day. The American Heart Association reports that the average American consumes 3,436 mg of sodium per day. Sodium works with other minerals, including potassium, calcium and magnesium, to control the balance of water between the cells and fluid surrounding the cells as well as aiding in the transmission of nerve signals and muscle contractions. Excessive sodium intake can cause excessive urinary excretion of the other minerals, including calcium, therefore leading to depletion.