Calcium

Calcium helps to maintain healthy bones and teeth, as well as assisting with nerve and muscle function. So, to maintain overall good health, it’s essential to make sure that there is enough calcium in your diet. Whilst there has historically been a perception – promoted particularly by the dairy industry – that animal products are the primary sources of dietary calcium, there are actually many good natural vegan calcium sources, and in addition many vegan products, such as plant-based milks, are fortified with calcium. Hence it’s not necessary for vegans to take calcium supplements, although you may choose to do so if you think you aren’t getting enough in your normal diet. However, consuming too much calcium is likely to be detrimental to health and can cause stomach upsets and other problems, such as kidney stones. So if you are able to meet your calcium requirements through food alone, supplements are probably best avoided.

As to the amount of calcium that should be consumed daily, it is important to be aware that many plant foods contain significant amounts of oxalic acid, which can restrict the amount of calcium absorbed by the body. On the other hand, animal proteins tend to draw more calcium from the blood during digestion, compared to plant proteins. On balance, the amount of calcium you should consume daily if following a vegan diet should be about the same as the amount recommended for meat eaters. For most adults, 1000 mg per day should be more than sufficient. 

To give an idea of how your daily intake of calcium can be obtained, here are some examples of good plant-based sources and the approximate amount of calcium they can provide, based on typical serving sizes:

Tofu (when made with calcium sulphate as firming agent)350 mg per 100 g
Tofu (when made with nigari as firming agent)250 mg per 100 g
Fortified plant-based milk250 mg per 200 ml
Fortified plant-based yoghurt150 mg per 125 ml
Kale (cooked)230 mg per 100 g
Broccoli (cooked)50 mg per 100 g
Sweet potatoes (cooked)80 mg per 200 g
Oranges50 mg per fruit
Kiwi fruit25 mg per fruit
Dried figs125 mg per 50 g
Chickpeas (cooked)100 mg per 200 g
Broad beans (cooked)70 mg per 200 g
Baked beans120 mg per 200 g
Sesame seeds240 mg per 25 g
Chia seeds150 mg per 25 g
Almonds130 mg per 50 g
Brazil nuts80 mg per 50 g
White bread150 mg per 100 g
Wholemeal bread100 mg per 100 g
Sage80 mg per 5g
Oregano80 mg per 5g
Dried mixed herbs80 mg per 5g
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