There are certain concerns that come up time after time when people think about going vegan. One such worry is, “Will I be able to get enough calcium from a vegan diet?”. The good news is that you most certainly can, and with these vegan calcium sources you’ll likely be ahead of the dairy lovers out there too!
You see, over the years, marketers for the dairy industry have done a remarkable job of persuading us that milk and all of its dairy byproducts are the only way to get sufficient calcium into our bodies. Clearly this is ridiculous.
The amount of vegan calcium sources out there is huge, and here today we explore some of the best ones for you to choose when you transition across to a plant-based diet.
Shall we start? Let’s go!
These loose leafed lovelies are one of the most potent vegan calcium sources on the list and are part of the much loved Brassica family. You’ll get a whopping 268mg of calcium from every cup of these glorious greens, and they taste pretty darn good, too.
If you live in the UK and are wondering what the heck collard greens are, try spring greens instead. They make a great substitute, as does kale (more of which in a bit!).
Once toasted and ground up into a paste (buy yourself a wet grinder to speed this up), hulled sesame seeds are transformed into tahini, an absolute staple of Middle Eastern and North African cooking.
Tahini tips the calcium scales at 130mg for every two tablespoons, so feel free to have a little extra vegan hummus next time around!
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Hemp milk is one of those plant milks that compares very favorably to cow’s milk when it comes to calcium per cup. Ordinary 1% fat cow’s milk has 305mg, whereas hemp milk gives you a remarkable 460mg in every cup, that’s over 50% more than what Daisy would give you!
This beautiful Brassica is recommended for a whole host of reasons, and calcium is just another to add to the list. Every cup of this green leafy veg gives you 180mg of vegan calcium goodness. Find out more about this wonder veg in our guide to kale.
Ahh, soybeans. The East Asian import has become a huge part of many a vegan and vegetarians life, and they give you a decent dose of calcium, too. Every cup of these legumes delivers 175mg of calcium.
It is, however, well worth noting that these beans should be consumed in moderation and non-GMO soy sourced wherever possible.
Pregnant and breastfeeding women should avoid soy altogether, and you should even consider ditching soy products if you are planning to have a child in the near future because of the endocrine disrupting compounds found within the beans. (1)
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Believe it or not, artichokes are a form of thistle. Take another look and you’ll no doubt have an “aha” moment. Anyway, back to matter at hand. Artichokes stack up fairly well in the calcium stakes, with one medium globe giving out 55mg.
These piquant berries pack a punch in flavor, but they also give us a reasonable amount of calcium as well. Every cup has 62mg in them, making them a very tasty vegan calcium source indeed.
Originally from Indonesia, tempeh is made from soybeans that have been fermented and the nutritional value of the product is well known in vegan and vegetarian circles. High in fiber, vitamins and protein, tempeh also gives a good dose of calcium per cup, too – 215mg.
Tempeh, like soybeans themselves (see above), should be eaten in moderation.
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Although we are well aware that oranges are not the only fruit (sorry) to contain calcium, they do deserve a place on our list. An average size fruit will give you around 50 to 60mg.
Fortified orange juice
If the whole fruit by itself isn’t good enough for you, you can always opt for some fortified orange juice to boost your calcium intake. Each cup contains around 300mg.
Readily available pretty much everywhere and incredibly easy to make at home, almond butter is a firm favourite amongst those who follow a plant-based diet. Just two tablespoons of this deliciously smooth and nutty treat will give you 85mg of calcium.
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Often referred to as the new quinoa, amaranth really does well as a vegan calcium source. With 275mg packed into every cup, amaranth only just falls short of cow’s milk when it comes to calcium, pipped by a mere 30mg.
Dried apricots are many a vegan’s favourite afternoon nibble, but I’m sure there are plenty of plant-based people out there who are unaware that every cup gives you 70mg calcium, too.
Remember moderation with these sweet treats, though, as they are very high in sugar, even if it is natural and unrefined.
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Another delicious dried treat, dates contain the same amount of calcium as the aforementioned dried apricots, weighing in with 70mg per cup. As with the apricots, however, it’s worth keeping in mind just how high in sugar these little blighters are, though. Try them in a vegan brownie mix.
Created during the third boiling of sugar syrup, blackstrap molasses has a dizzying array of goodness in it, including vitamin B6, iron, manganese, potassium, magnesium and, of course, calcium. Just two tablespoons will give you an astonishing 400mg, making it one of the best vegan calcium sources there is.
Turnip greens are a healthy foodstuff for sure and they have been a part of southeastern American cooking for as long as anyone can remember, but how do they stack up when it comes to being a viable source of calcium for vegans? Not bad, is the answer. Each cup will give you 250mg of calcium.
Navy (Haricot) beans
Navy beans, often referred to as haricot beans, are a white bean that can be bought either dried or canned all across the world. It is these little beans that are found in baked bean tins everywhere, and they’re a good source of calcium, too, containing 125mg in every cup.
Roasted sesame seeds
These incy wincy seeds contain quite a bit of calcium, but you need to eat a fair few of them to get any real amount from them. That being said, a few of these roasted seeds atop breads, salads and all manner of other foods makes for a tasty treat, so the 35mg that you get from every ounce is a welcome bonus.
Fortified non-dairy milk
The different types of non-dairy milk available today is wide and varied, but they are well worth a mention on our list. Whether you have almond, rice, oat, soy or any other is up to you, but the fortification will ensure that you get around 200 to 300mg in every cup.
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Part of the cabbage family, broccoli is one of the healthiest foods around. High in both vitamin B, C and K, broccoli also gives vegans a good opportunity to get a little extra calcium, too. Each cup of these green florets provides you with 95mg of calcium.
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Great northern beans
Another white bean makes the list, but this time it’s the larger great northern bean that we’re taking a look at. Similar in shape and size to lima beans, the great northern gives a respectable 120mg of calcium in every cup. Add them to your soups and stews to up your calcium intake with ease.
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Despite their thorny origins, blackberries are a great fruit to have around during the summer months. While their calcium levels may not be particularly high (40mg per cup), we love them so much we simply couldn’t leave them off of the list.
Otherwise known as Chinese cabbage, bok choy is yet another Brassica that makes the cut. Originally from Asia, bok choy is becoming a firm favorite in Northern Europe thanks to its ability to withstand the cold weather found there. Once cooked, bok choy gives us 330mg of calcium in every cup.
Okra, or ladies fingers to some, produces a rather gooey consistency when cooked, but it’s calcium levels are undeniable. Each cup yields around 130mg of calcium, which is why it makes our list of vegan calcium sources here at Happy Happy Vegan.
Celery is not the best calcium provider, but it does still give us around 40mg per cup. However, it is rich in other vitamins and minerals, especially vitamin K, so make sure that you get a couple of sticks whenever you can.
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Another legume, chickpeas (sometimes called garbanzo, gram or Bengal gram) are extremely popular in Indian kitchens and, of course, the main ingredient in hummus (hummus actually means chickpeas in Arabic).
Their use is increasing across the globe, especially with vegans and vegetarians, and they are a fantastic way to boost your calcium intake. Each cup of these little round bullets give you 80mg of calcium when cooked.
Rhubarb is a weird plant, but it’s also a very tasty one – providing you avoid the poisonous leaves, that is! Contrary to popular belief, rhubarb is actually a vegetable, yet we always tend to prepare it as if it were a fruit. Rhubarb does relatively well on the calcium front, containing 350mg per cup.
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Brazil and hazelnuts
We’ve bunched these two together because their results are the same when it comes to calcium levels. Both types of nut contain around 220mg per cup, pretty good!
Possibly one of the prettiest fruits around, the kiwi helps us when it comes to calcium too. Every cup of this vibrant green fruit gives us 60mg of calcium and eating a couple of them an hour before bed can help you sleep better, too.
Part of the Allium family, leeks are coming back into the limelight, especially in the UK. A cup of leeks will provide you with 55mg of calcium.
Great for the skin, packed full of iron and touted for its fat burning qualities, seaweed is becoming more and more popular everywhere. It’s also fairly high in calcium, too, with 120mg to be found in every cup.
A common ingredient in Asian cuisine, the humble bean sprout is a calcium champion. One cup gives you a very respectable 320mg, so get stir frying!
Fennel has been used in pretty much every cuisine somewhere along the way and is a good source of iron, manganese, magnesium and B vitamins. You can get calcium from your fennel too, each cup will have about 45mg in it.
As we saw with the almond butter, these nuts are calcium powerhouses. In their whole food form, almonds contain an astonishing 380mg per cup, making them one of the very best vegan calcium sources out there.
While tofu may not be to everyones liking, the calcium levels in this soybean product are undeniable. Amounts will vary depending on the type of tofu that you buy, but you can get anywhere up to 100mg for every ounce from some so putting it on the list was really a no-brainer.
As with the tempeh and soybeans listed above, consumers should purchase non-GMO tofu wherever possible and consume it in moderation.
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Bonus source: Figs
The final entry on our list is the humble fig. This inverted flower (oddly, it’s not a fruit) has been with us for centuries and is a great source of plant-based calcium. Apparently the leaves can come in handy at times, too!
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How’s that for a list of vegan calcium sources?
There we are, 35 fantastic vegan calcium sources for you to feast on. Next time someone asks you how you manage without dairy products, send them over to us. We’ll put them straight. 🙂
What’s you favorite source of calcium? Let us know in the comments section below.
About The Author:
David Bedford is a longtime vegan with a particular interest in nutrition and mental health. He is also a co-founder of happyhappyvegan.com.
When he isn’t sifting through PubMed or watching Dr. Greger do his thing, he’ll be banging away at a keyboard producing either copy or code. On the rare occasion when a screen isn’t in front of him, you’ll find David walking in the nearest available green space with his four-legged sidekick, Ralphie.
- Lily Nichols | 5 Reasons To Avoid Soy In Pregnancy | https://lilynicholsrdn.com/5-reasons-avoid-soy-in-pregnancy/