Yes, there are many vegan foods high in calcium. Actually, you don’t need milk and dairy, in order, to get all the calcium you need.
Why do we need calcium, besides strong bones?
Calcium takes part in many functions in the human body.
To name a few, calcium has a key role in muscle function, bone function, nerve transmission, hormonal secretion, the dilatation of blood vessels and many more.
You can learn more about the importance of calcium to the body and how to increase calcium absorption, here.
How much calcium do we need daily?
According to the National Institutes of Health, we need about 1000-1300 mg of calcium per day (1).
Calcium needs depends on age and sex.
Teenagers need 1300 mg of calcium, adults need only 1000 mg of calcium daily.
Most noteworthy, women over 50s need 1200 mg of calcium daily.
Don’t worry… There are so many vegan foods high in calcium, that you’ll meet daily calcium requirements easily.
Vegan foods high in calcium vs a glass of milk.
Yes, cow’s milk is rich in calcium. Just 100 gr of cow’s milk contains 113 mg of calcium. Furthermore, a glass of milk contains about 280 mg of calcium. That’s 28% DV (Daily Value) of calcium.
But, cow’s milk isn’t the best source of calcium. Cow’s milk is high in saturated fat, cholesterol and calories. Hence, milk can make us gain weight.
You shouldn’t worry about your daily calcium intake, though. There are countless vegan foods high in calcium. Spices, seeds, vegetables, beans, grains, and even fruits are all vegan foods high in calcium.
Most noteworthy, you could consume plant-based food supplements rich in calcium, such as moringa powder. Moringa is pretty rich in calcium. It contains approximately 2,700 mg of calcium per 100 gr. A teaspoon of moringa powder contains about 180 mg of calcium. Moreover, moringa powder is rich in vitamin A, vitamin C, iron, and protein. It’s a true superfood. Every active person or athlete should keep it in mind.
Moringa powder is a vegan food supplement rich in calcium: 2 teaspoons of moringa powder contain more calcium than a glass of cow’s milk.
Seeds are vegan foods high in calcium
Seeds are among the best sources of calcium.
As a rule of thumb, consume whole seeds daily, as they contain many minerals and health fats. Walnuts, chia seeds, and flaxseeds are rich in omega-3 fatty acids. Omega-3s are so important for our health.
Common seeds rich in calcium (mg of calcium per 100 gr):
- chia seeds (631 mg),
- mustard seeds (266 mg). Mustard seeds are the main ingredient for mustard. Consequently, mustard is also a good source of calcium. It has about 63 mg. Check the nutritional facts of your favorite mustard, just to be sure. The calcium content depends on the manufacturing process.
- flaxseeds (255 mg),
- sesame seeds (131 mg),
- sunflower seeds (78 mg),
- hemp seeds (70 mg),
- pumpkin seeds (55 mg)
There are many ways to eat seeds. Use these vegan foods high in calcium in your oatmeal, in smoothies, in salads, or in your toast.
Another great plant-based food rich in calcium is tahini. Tahini is made from roasted sesame seeds. It contains 420 mg of calcium per 100 gr. You can eat tahini as a dressing on salads, or as a healthy spread on bread.
Use spices to boost the daily calcium intake
Spices are the richest plant-based food in calcium. Use them regularly in recipes.
- celery seeds (1767 mg). They’re small brown seeds. Celery seeds are used in many recipes as a spice.
- dill seeds (1516 mg). Dill seed gives an unusual flavor to recipes. Usually, they are used in breads, soups, and salad dressings.
- poppy seeds (1438 mg). They are black tiny seeds. They are sprinkled on bread or muffins.
- fennel seeds (1196 mg). There are used as aromatic spice. They have a mild anise flavor.
- cumin seeds (931 mg). Cumin seeds are used in traditional cuisines. Either whole or ground. They give a distinctive flavor and aroma.
- coriander seeds (709 mg). They can be used whole or ground to many recipes.
- dried lotus seeds (163 mg). The lotus seeds are used in Asian cuisine and traditional medicine. They have a mild flavor.
Seeds and spices are super nutrient-rich foods. Spices and herbs have potent anti-microbial, anti-oxidant, and anti-tumorigenic properties (2). Hence, spices can help us fight chronic inflammation and chronic diseases (3). They have so powerful active components and phytochemicals, that we should consume them whenever possible.
Moreover, most spices are vegan foods high in calcium. Celery seeds, dill seeds, poppy seeds, and fennel seeds all contain more than 1000 mg of calcium, or 100% DV (Daily Value). Certainly, we won’t eat 100 grams of these seeds, but they can help us meet the daily calcium requirements.
Vegetables are vegan foods high in calcium
Other vegan foods high in calcium are many vegetables (mg per 100 gr):
- kale (254 mg). Kale is among the best dark leafy vegetables you can eat. It’s packed with vitamins. Despite spinach, it has low oxalate content. This means that calcium in kale is more bioavailable than calcium in spinach.
- collard greens (232 mg). You can enjoy collard greens either cooked or raw. When you boil them they’ll lose some calcium, though. Cooked collard greens contain about 140 mg of calcium.
- arugula (160 mg). If you like the unique peppery flavor of arugula, eat it regularly. Arugula is super rich in calcium, among others. It’s a perfect ingredient for salads and sandwiches. Did you know that arugula can improve your endurance and muscle power?
- beet greens (117 mg). Yes, beet greens are edible. Beet greens are very rich in nutrients. Not only calcium. You can eat them raw in salads, steamed, or boiled. Nitrates in beets improve your endurance, as well. Drink a beet juice before a race. You’ll run faster.
- mustard greens (115 mg). Mustard greens tend to preserve their calcium content when cooked.
- turnip greens (114 mg). The easiest way to enjoy turnip greens is by boiling them. Sprinkle some fresh lemon juice and extra virgin olive oil.
- chicory greens (100 mg). You can eat chicory greens raw. Cooking will make them less bitter and more sweat.
- spinach (99 mg). Although spinach has a pretty high amount of calcium, you better avoid consuming it regularly. Due to the fact that it’s high in oxalates. They bind to calcium, preventing its absorption.
- sweet potato (37-60 mg). Sweet potato is an excellent source of calcium. The amount of calcium depends on the variety. Cooked sweet potatoes preserve their calcium content. Prefer to cook sweet potatoes with an air-fryer. They are good for you, as they keep most of their nutrients this way. Furthermore, you can eat the leaves of sweet potatoes. They are even richer in calcium (78 mg).
- squash (16-58 mg). Each squash variety has a different calcium content. Squash is so rich in nutrients. For instance, summer squash is good for your eyesight, as it’s rich in carotenoids.
- Swiss chard (51 mg). Swiss chard is perfect for many vegan recipes. It tastes great with lentils, chickpeas, rice, or pasta.
- broccoli (47 mg). Broccoli contains some calcium. Most noteworthy, broccoli is pretty high in vitamin C. It has more than 100% DV of vitamin C. Did you known that vitamin C can increase calcium absorption ? Steam broccoli to preserve most nutrients.
Beans and legumes contain decent amounts of calcium
All beans contain at least some moderate amount of calcium.
According to the American Institute for Cancer Research, we should consume whole grains, vegetables, fruits, and beans in most meals. Don’t eat beans for their calcium content. Eat them regularly, as they help you prevent certain types of cancer (3).
No matter what, many bean varieties are rich in calcium (mg of calcium per 100 gr):
- 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 are vegan foods high in calcium
Grains don’t contain any significant amount of calcium.
On the other hand, as we consume large amounts of baked products, grains help us meet the daily calcium requirements.
Prefer consuming baked products that come from whole grains. The bran of seeds is the most nutritious part.
The calcium content of common whole grains is:
- amaranth (159 mg). Amaranth is a grain. You’ll find amaranth as flour. Most commonly mixed with other flours. You can use it for baked goods, such as bread. Moreover, there are amaranth species that are cultivated for their leaves. Amaranth leaves contain even more calcium (215 mg).
- teff (180 mg). It’s a cereal grass. You’ll find it in Ethiopian cuisine.
- wheat (133 mg). Yes, wheat bread is rich in calcium.
- oats (52 mg).
- barley (41 mg).
- buckwheat (41 mg).
Fruits that are good sources of calcium
Even fruits are rich in calcium:
- dried goji berries (224 mg),
- figs, dried (162 mg),
- dried apricots (55 mg),
- raisins (50 mg),
- orange (40 mg),
- mandarin (37 mg),
- kiwi (34 mg),
- other berries (8-29 mg).
The whole list of calcium-rich fruits here.
Plant-based fortified milk is high in calcium
There are so many non-dairy types of milk nowadays.
There are many types of plant-based fortified milk. Just check the nutritional facts. Fortified milk may contain even greater amounts of calcium than cow’s milk. Check prices of plant-based milks here.