Following a well-balanced plant-based diet, with a wide variety of healthy vegan foods, such as beans, vegetables, seeds, nuts, and whole grains can help us meet our daily needs of calcium.
How much calcium do we need a day?
Calcium is necessary for good health. For instance, calcium has a key role in muscle function, bone function, nerve transmission, hormonal secretion, the dilatation of blood vessels and many more.
We need about 1,000-1,300 mg of calcium per day. Adult men and women need only 1,000 mg of calcium a day. Women older than 50 years, and teenagers need 1,200 and 1,300 mg of calcium a day, respectively (1).
We shouldn’t consume too much calcium from supplements, though. Exceeding the maximum safe dose may cause side effects!
Seeds are high in calcium
Seeds are among the best vegan sources of calcium. Common seeds rich in calcium are:
- chia seeds (631 mg per 100g)
- mustard seeds (266 mg). Mustard is also a good source of calcium. It has about 63 mg per 100g. The calcium content depends on the manufacturing process, though.
- flaxseeds (255 mg)
- sesame seeds (131 mg)
- sunflower seeds (78 mg)
- hemp seeds (70 mg)
- pumpkin seeds (55 mg)
Another great vegan calcium-rich food is tahini. In fact, tahini is the richest vegan food in calcium per serving! It’s made of roasted sesame seeds. Consume tahini in moderation if you want to lose weight.
Spices boost your daily calcium intake
In fact, spices are the richest vegan foods in calcium per 100g. They contribute to the total calcium intake.
- celery seeds (1,767 mg)
- dill seeds (1,516 mg)
- poppy seeds (1,438 mg)
- fennel seeds (1,196 mg)
- cumin seeds (931 mg)
- coriander seeds (709 mg)
- dried lotus seeds (163 mg)
Seeds and spices are nutrient-dense foods. Spices and herbs have potent anti-microbial, anti-oxidant, and anti-tumorigenic properties. Spices can help us fight chronic inflammation (2,3).
Common vegan foods high in calcium
Many vegetables contain decent amounts of calcium:
- kale (254 mg). Kale is one of the richest vegan foods in calcium. Most noteworthy, kale has a low oxalate content. So, calcium in kale is bioavailable.
- collard greens (232 mg). You can enjoy collard greens either cooked or raw. Cooked collard greens contain about 140 mg of calcium.
- arugula (160 mg).
- beet greens (117 mg). Yes, beetroot leaves are edible. In fact, they’re more nutritious than the beetroot.
- mustard greens (115 mg). Mustard greens preserve their calcium content when cooked.
- turnip greens (190 mg).
- cabbage contains up to 105 mg of calcium per 100g, depending on the variety.
- chicory greens (100 mg).
- spinach (99 mg). Although spinach has a high calcium content, It’s better to avoid consuming it with other vegan calcium-rich foods. It’s high oxalate content prevents calcium absorption.
- sweet potato (37-60 mg). The calcium content depends on the variety. Cooked sweet potatoes preserve their calcium. You can also eat the leaves of sweet potatoes. They are rich in calcium as well. They have 78 mg of calcium per 100g.
- squash (16-58 mg). Each squash variety has a different calcium content.
- Swiss chard (51 mg).
- broccoli (47 mg). It’s pretty high in vitamin C, which increases calcium absorption.
- carrot greens (1,970 mg). Not only are carrot tops edible, but also they have a great nutritional value. They’re one of the richest vegan foods in calcium!
Beans and legumes contain decent amounts of calcium
Actually, all beans are good dietary sources of calcium:
- soybeans (277 mg)
- white beans (240 mg)
- black beans (191 mg)
- pinto beans (161 mg)
- black-eyed peas (128 mg)
- kidney beans (83 mg)
- lima beans (81 mg)
- chickpeas (49 mg)
- lentils (35 mg)
Furthermore, many fermented bean products and other common vegan foods are high in calcium:
- tofu (372 mg)
- natto (217 mg)
- tempeh (111 mg)
- edamame (60 mg)
- miso (57 mg)
- hummus (49 mg)
Whole grains contain moderate amounts of calcium
Grains don’t contain significant amounts of calcium. But, as we consume large amounts of bread and other baked products, grains help us meet our daily needs.
The calcium content of common whole grains is:
- amaranth (159 mg). Amaranth is a grain. You’ll find amaranth as flour. Moreover, there are amaranth species that are cultivated for their leaves. Amaranth leaves contain even more calcium (215 mg/100g).
- teff (180 mg). It’s a cereal grass.
- wheat (133 mg).
- oats (52 mg).
- barley (41 mg).
- buckwheat (41 mg).
Prefer consuming whole grains. The bran of the seed is the most nutritious part.
Bread is a great vegan source of calcium. Especially breads fortified with calcium contribute to the daily calcium intake!
Certain fruits are good vegan sources of calcium
Certain fruits are rich in calcium: